Find the True Name of the Debt Collector Harassing You
Follow these simple steps to work towards relief from debt collection harassment
The first step in getting justice for debt collector harassment is figuring out the real name and location of the debt collector that is harassing you. Without that information, any lawsuit is trapped at the first hurdle: Any Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) lawsuit must be delivered, usually hand-delivered, to the debt collector before the suit can truly begin, but that is impossible without a name and a location.
If you have been harassed by a debt collector, but don’t know the name of the company that is calling you, there are some easy steps you can take to try to learn the identity of the company. If the steps below fail, there are other tricks an attorney can try that may work, but those tricks are often prohibitively expensive or time-consuming, so it is important to go through the steps below thoroughly:
1. Google the debt collector’s telephone number—and any “call back” numbers left on voicemail messages. Look at your Caller ID history to see what numbers the debt collector is using to call you. Then try a Google search and look at Better Business Bureau pages, online forums (such as 800notes.com), or company web pages to locate the caller. Because debt collectors often fake their Caller ID numbers (a process called “spoofing”), you should also check your voicemail messages for any “call back” numbers. Collectors who leave voicemails need you to be able to call them back, which forces them to leave their real phone numbers. Those numbers may also be Googled, and they will turn up more useful information.
2. Call the original lender and ask where your debt was sent. If you took out a payday loan, those lenders (such as Advance America, MoneyKey, CashNetUSA, and so on) will usually tell you where they sent your debt. You don’t have to explain to them that you are being harassed—just tell them politely that you are trying to track down the current owner of your debt and ask them to tell you who they sold it to. Unfortunately, many debts are transferred between multiple owners, so you may need to make several calls in a row in order to trace the debt to its current home.
3. Check online to see if your debt was purchased by Debt Management Partners. The Buffalo, New York-based company Debt Management Partners often buys or leases payday loan debt. This company may have bought your account and then sold or leased it to someone else—and they may be willing to tell you who they sold it to. Just fill out the form on their website and record any information that this company has for you: https://dmpportal.com/public/AccountSearch.aspx
4. Call Plaza Services to ask if they own your debt. Another major debt buyer, Plaza Services, often sends accounts to other debt collectors—who in turn often do not reveal their names. You may call Plaza Services at (877) 475-1103 and ask them if they currently own your debt.
5. Call the debt collector directly, be as polite as possible, and ask:
- Can you send me an email or letter with information about the debt?
- (If they offered you a settlement) Can you send me an email or letter so I have the settlement terms in writing before I decide?
- If I make a payment by credit card over the phone, how will it show up on my billing statement?
- Do you have a website that I can visit?
- Do you have a PO Box where you can receive mail, such as a notice of bankruptcy or a check?
If you learn the answers to these questions, then we may be able to subpoena the relevant entities (such as email and webpage providers, the Post Office, or banks) to discover who is harassing you. If you are being contacted by an unknown debt collector, have tried these steps, and want to talk to an attorney for a consultation, contact us by filling out the page on our website.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. This is general information and is not intended to address your specific legal needs.