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My personal information is becoming associated with a deadbeat

GrizzledGrizzled Registered User
edited November 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I moved in to this apartment a little over a year ago. Several previous tenants appear to have been behind on their bills, based on the huge volume of mail I received for these people. Taking it to the post office and telling them none of these people live at that address anymore fixed most of it pretty rapidly, but stuff for one guy keeps coming. I don't open any of this mail, but just from looking at the front of the envelopes, he is behind payment on a federal student loan and at least two other debts. Let's call this guy Joe.

About nine months ago, a guy came to my door at 10 PM trying to serve court papers on Joe. I told him that Joe hadn't lived there since September 2009, that I was the sole occupant, but that mail for Joe was still coming to the address. I showed him my ID to prove I wasn't Joe, and he was very apologetic and polite about having disturbed me.

Fast forward to today. I still get mail for Joe about 1-2 times a week, which I promptly label "No longer at this address" and put in the outgoing mail area. This morning I got a call on my cell phone; when I picked up, the person asked for Joe. I told them the same thing; no longer lives here, bills for him are still coming here, I have been the sole occupant for 1 year +. They apologized, said they would remove my name and address from the system, etc. I didn't think to ask who they were calling on behalf of as I was in the middle of getting ready to go to work.

What bothers me is this: in some database, a search is turning up my address + my phone number + Joe's name. I don't want my personal information to somehow get mixed up with this guy and have it lead to me getting screwed somehow. I myself got deep into debt many years ago and managed to pay the whole thing off over time; my credit score still sucks and I am working slowly to rebuild it.

The lady who called mentioned that "when we do a general search, sometimes these associations just pop up". So my question is: How do I figure out where this information is coming from and how do I disassociate myself from this guy? I already check my credit score whenever the free check comes up, and I try not to pass out my personal info too much, but I can think of a few places that have the address/phone combination and could have sold it.



TLDR: Last guy to live at my place gets lots of bill collection notices; my address and phone number have become associated with his name in a database somewhere. How can I undo this/what can I do about it?

PS: this is in California.

Grizzled on
Robman wrote: »
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Posts

  • DeusfauxDeusfaux Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    check local laws, but here it was you had to send a piece of registered mail to the collection agency telling them to stop, and they had to abide by that

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  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    The collection agency has Joe's last known address and thats probably all they have. So they do a search for his name and/or that address and any phone numbers that come up, regardless of the name registered to them, is called. Your name isn't really being associated with Joe, they're just desperate to get the money and calling anything that could possibly be connected to him. This search is most likely being done through Google so you don't have to worry about being put into a database, except maybe the collection agencies internal database which should be updated as being incorrect and remove you from it.

    There are ways to stop a collection agency from calling you, but when they sell that debt to a different agency you'll have to go through that process again.

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  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    FDCPA is a relevant bit of law here, but really, you have nothing to worry about.

    To echo what's already been said, when a collection agency is looking for somebody they just start doing searches with whatever information they can find. If you live at a previous address of theirs, you might get a call. If you're a neighbor or former neighbor, you might get a call. If you're a coworker or employer you might get a call. If you have the same last name as them you might get a call.

    These days just about everyone's gotten a call for a debt that's not theirs. The harder the person is to find, the more tenuous of leads they'll follow looking for them and the more random people get picked up in their searches.

    There's strict rules about what they can and can't do on these calls (google the FDCPA and you're sure to find those rules, it's always worth knowing them), some collectors are especially aggressive about breaking those rules in cases like yours to scare any leads out of you.

    With the FDCPA, if you tell them you're not the person (you don't have to help them find the person, even if you're able to) they have to stop calling you unless they can find evidence to the contrary.

    Get the company name and the name of anyone you talk to when you tell them you're not the person. Call back if you have to. Keep track of this. Any time that agency calls you again, tell them the date they'd called previously and inform them it's illegal for them to continue to call for that person. If they keep it up, inform them you'll be filing in small claims court for $1000 per incident. They'll stop unless they're prepared to prove you're Joe. At that point it's basically up to you if you want to pursue charges or not.

  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    You should be able to contact the USPS and inform them not to deliver any mail for Joe Lastname to your address. Anything further should get RTS'd at the sorting plant.

    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm surprised they got your cell number, land line i could see though.

    you've got nothing to worry about with your credit, just going to be an inconvenience until this guys pays his debts or the companies sort out that he doesn't live there anymore.

  • MrDelishMrDelish Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Ruckus wrote: »
    You should be able to contact the USPS and inform them not to deliver any mail for Joe Lastname to your address. Anything further should get RTS'd at the sorting plant.

    The USPS must deliver mail as addressed; ie, the name on a piece of mail does not matter. They will tell you to mark it "No longer at this address. Return to sender" and put it in your outgoing mail.

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm surprised they got your cell number, land line i could see though.

    you've got nothing to worry about with your credit, just going to be an inconvenience until this guys pays his debts or the companies sort out that he doesn't live there anymore.

    Agreed; the OP is pretty much at the "worst" situation for what can happen to his own personal details. These debts are still associated with the original person, but they have your address and phone number. However, your address & phone number are still showing up under Joe's details, not yours. Since they don't know your name or your details, they can't have anything "stick" to you because they don't know who you are.

    As for your cell, if you put it in as your contact information with your address, suddenly it's associated with the address. You order a pizza at Sketchy's Pizza and they enter you into a database with 123 Joe's Address, 555-1234 and if they sell their info (which they do, because they're Sketchy) suddenly your cell and address are linked up. So Joe's got his address in there and now it's associated with your cell number.

    Thing is, they do not know if Joe still lives there or if you're his roommate, brother, dad, whatever. So they call and find out.

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