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Annie’s Mailbox: Debt collectors calling for relatives

Dear Annie: In these tough economic times, my husband and I have managed to stay ahead of things by working hard and being careful with our money. We know we are both fortunate to have jobs. Some family members are not so lucky and have lost their homes.

The appalling thing is that bill collectors have started calling us looking for these relatives. I have no intention of helping them. Each time they call and ask for the extended family member, I first ask their name and that of the company they’re calling from, and I write this down along with the date and time. I then tell them there is no one here by that name and never has been and ask that they please not call again. But these snakes still call.

I now have a list of these repeat offenders. My question is, to what agency should I report this harassment? And maybe you could let the rest of the world know that they have recourse against these reprehensible tactics. I understand they are owed money, but that is between them and the individuals. It has nothing to do with me. – Tired of the Harassment

Dear Tired: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says a debt collector may contact a relative or friend, but only to learn the location of the debtor. They are permitted to do this only once, unless the collector has reason to believe you have new information or that previous information was false. It can be a form of harassment if a debt collector contacts you repeatedly or is abusive or threatening. You should be able to stop contact by writing directly to the debt collector. You also can lodge a complaint with the FCC. For information on how to do that, go to complaints.html or call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).

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