Are You Being Harassed Over Someone Else’s Debt?

It's nerve-wracking enough to field calls from bill collectors over your own debt - but what if they're harassing you about a debt burden that belongs to someone else?

It's more common than you may think. Six years after moving into our house, I still receive the occasional call for someone named Brandi who was likely the former owner of our phone number - and obviously in some dire financial straits. But the calls came with a lot more frequency after we first moved in - sometimes more than once a day.

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it's illegal for debt collectors to harass you about debt, whether it's your own or someone else's (especially if it's someone else's!). It doesn't matter if the other party is a relative, a friend, a co-worker, or a total stranger, say Chicago bankruptcy attorneys. You don't have to put up with it. And even if you do know the person in debt, it is illegal for collectors to request information from you about a third party.

Next time you receive a phone call, explain that the debt doesn't belong to you and that you need the caller to stop illegally harassing you. Request their name, company and mailing address and make a note of when they called. If you continue to be hassled, draft up a cease and desist letter demanding that the collector stop contacting you about a third party's debt, sign it, and send it via certified mail with delivery confirmation.

Of course, a simpler option would be to change your phone number - or give up your land line and rely on just your cell. But while it might be the easiest plan, you shouldn't feel obligated to do it. If nothing else you try works, feel free to contact your local police department.

Speaking of harassment, if you're being repeatedly contacted about your own debt - and you truly can't afford to pay - you don't have to take it. You have the right to request that bill collectors not contact you at work, via friends or relatives, or even by phone. However, cutting off contact doesn't eliminate debt, and creditors can still sue for what you owe.

The best way to deal with debt is to address the root of the problem - your balance. If it's unmanageable, bankruptcy can offer an alternative by eliminating or discharging your debt. Wondering if filing for bankruptcy could help you? You won't know until you ask. At DebtStoppers, our professional Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can determine whether a bankruptcy plan can relieve your debt when you sign up for our free one-on-one debt analysis.

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