What to Do About Wrong Number Collection Calls

Stop Calls From Collectors Asking for the Wrong Person

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It’s common to get wrong calls from debt collectors, especially if you’ve recently changed your number. You can probably understand why that number’s previous owner didn’t give the collectors new contact information; they may have even changed their number to dodge collector calls. But that doesn’t mean you have to be harassed by calls for a debt that’s not yours.

You’ve probably found out that telling the collect they’re calling the wrong number isn’t enough.

Often, collectors continue calls even though you’ve informed them that the number doesn't belong to the person they're looking for. The agent you speak with might even mark the number as invalid, but the computerized skip trace system debt collectors use to track down consumers can reconfirm your number as being correct for that person. This often happens because that’s the number on that person’s credit card application or other records. If that happens, the calls resume.

Send a Cease and Desist Letter to Stop Collection Calls

A cease and desist letter is the best option for stopping collection calls – even for your own debts – because Federal law requires debt collectors to stop calling if you’ve notified them in writing. The cease and desist letter basically says, “Stop calling me about this debt.” Debt collectors are required by law to respect the cease and desist letter and stop calling.

But, they can contact you once more after that letter to let you know what they plan to do next. If calls continue beyond your cease and desist letter, you should notify the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and your state Attorney General that the collectors have violated the law.

Get Important Info From the Collection Agent

Before you can send your cease and desist letter, you need to get the name and address of the collection agency. Unfortunately, that probably you’ll have to talk to the collection agency at least once. In that one phone call, get the name and mailing address of the collection agency and let them know that they’re calling the wrong person. Then, prepare your cease and desist letter.

Cease and Desist Letter for Wrong Number

Address the letter as normal, with the date, your name, and your address at the top, followed by the debt collector’s information. Then, use this text to stop calls. Make sure you update the bold parts to fit your situation.

Pursuant to my rights under federal debt collection laws, I am requesting that you cease and desist calls to ###-###-#### in relation to the account of [wrong person’s first and last name]. This is the wrong number to contact that person.

You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the [your state here] Attorney General’s office. Civil and criminal claims will be pursued.

Tips for the Future

It helps to send the letter via certified mail with return receipt requested, but if you don’t want to pay the additional fees, you can just put a stamp on the letter and drop it in the mail.

Since new debt collectors may resume calls after a few months, I suggest making several copies of your cease and desist letter so you can easily send it if you start getting calls from new agencies.