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What is worse than getting calls from debt collectors? How about getting calls from debt collectors when you don’t actually owe them any money?

Such is the situation faced by one Cape Coral couple who kept getting collection calls for a woman with a name similar to the wife’s who owed $210 to an answering service company from years before.

When merely stating that they had reached the wrong person brought no respite from the calls, the husband requested proof that the bills were theirs. “Proof” arrived in the form of another woman’s name for telephone answering services. The man then wrote to the company and pointed out the billing discrepancies. He told the collection agency to remove his name and stop contacting them over the other woman’s debt.

Another couple from Fort Myers reported receiving several calls a day for a woman who used to have their number back in the 1990s.

A consumer associate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund says that these problems occur because most of these debts now belong to third-party debt collectors working for pennies on the dollar right before the debt expires, and the information that these companies have is old and outdated.

Even if the debt is not yours, to make collection attempts stop, you must communicate with the debt collection agency. Asking them to send a debt validation notice and the name of the original creditor is the first step.

Once provided with that information, if the debt isn’t yours, write them a letter informing them of their mistake and that all contact must cease. If the calls and letters continue, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by going to consumerfinance.gov/complaint. You can also call 855-411-CFPB.

If you are struggling under a mountain of accrued debt in your own name, there are solutions to lighten your load. A Florida bankruptcy law attorney can help you weigh all your options and assist you in deciding how best to deal with your debt.

Source: News-Press, “Tell Mel: Harassment comes from others’ debt” Melanie Payne, Apr. 09, 2014