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Are Debt Collectors Calling You For A Debt That You Do Not Owe?

Have you received collection calls from a debt collector for a debt owed by another person?

The Law:

We understand that mistakes happen. Like everybody, debt collectors make mistakes too and sometimes contact the wrong person to collect a debt. If this happens to you, you should inform the debt collector that they have contacted the wrong person. Regrettably, in our experience, this does not always stop debt collectors from continuing to call to collect a debt that you do not owe.

 Fortunately, the FDCPA and RFDCPA regulates communication between debt collectors and third parties. A debt collector is only permitted to contact a third party when the debt collector reasonably believes that person would have information regarding the consumer's location or telephone number. More importantly, debt collectors are only permitted to contact a third party once.

When a debt collector mistakenly contacts somebody other than the intended consumer, then the debt collector has effectively contacted a third party. If you truthfully inform a debt collector that they have contacted the wrong person and that you have no information regarding the consumer, then the debt collector cannot continue to contact you.  Click here to read 15 U.S.C. Section 1692b(3).

Common Scenarios:

This is another part of the law that is frequently violated in several different ways by harassing debt collectors and/or creditors.  One of the most common violations of this section occurs when the debt collector calls a consumer about a person the consumer doesn't know.  This is ends up being a wrong number call.  The consumer informs the debt collector that he/she doesn't know who the debt collector is asking about and that it has the wrong number.  Unfortunately, the debt collector continues to call this same consumer even though its the wrong number.  For the first couple of calls the consumer answers and continues to tell the collector to stop calling.  But, after a few more calls, it becomes extremely frustrating and the consumer stops answer his/her phone.  This is a clear violation of the FDCPA and RFDCPA.  Additionally, you might have a claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA").

Another scenario where debt collectors and creditors violate this section of the FDCPA/RFDCPA is when references or friends and family are contacted.  Debt collectors routinely call friends, family, and references listed on an application if it cannot make contact with the person who owes the alleged debt. As a result, the debt collector starts calling friends and family.  Under the FDCPA and RFDCPA, the debt collector is allowed to call a friend, family member, or reference to ask about a phone number, address, or place of employment where the person who allegedly owes the debt can be reached.  But, each of these people may only be called one (1) time and they can only be called for location information for the debtor.  Unfortunately, what normally happens is that these references, friends, and family members are often repeatedly called by the creditor or debt collector, and even worse, private information (information about the debt) is communicated by the debt collector to these friends, family members, or references.  Calling multiple times and disclosing private information violates multiple sections of the FDCPA/RFDCPA.

Case Example:

One of my clients was called by a cell phone company regarding a past due debt that belonged to the person who owned the phone number before my client obtained the number. Basically, it was a wrong number call.  The debt belonged to someone my client didn't know, from a cell phone company that my client didn't do business with, and for a cell phone number that now belongs to my client.  My client became extremely irritated with these calls because the cell phone company called him everyday and sometimes multiple times a day using a pre-recorded message.  My client would either need to wait on the phone for the pre-recorded message to end before he could speak with someone or he would need to call the number back to inform the cell phone company that it was calling the wrong person. My client informed the cell phone company over five (5) times it was calling the wrong number. But of course, the cell phone company completely ignored my client and continued to call him.

Fortunately, we were able to make the calls stop within a week of him hiring us, my client obtain money from the settlement for the calls the cell phone company made, and all our attorneys' fees and costs were paid by the cell phone company.

If you live in San Diego, Los Angeles, or anywhere else in California and are being called by a creditor or debt collector for a debt that you do not owe, feel free to give us a call for a free evaluation.  1-800-219-3577.

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