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It’s a call that won’t go away for a Northeast Ohio woman. She says debt collectors are calling her for a debt she doesn’t owe. It’s a common problem, and an increasing complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.

Phony debt collection call

Debt collection, in general, is the number one industry complained about to the FTC. Whether you owe the debt or not, you have rights and you need to exercise them so the collector doesn’t take advantage of you.

In the case of Claudia Pilka, she was getting phone calls for a man who didn’t live at her home. She knows he didn’t formerly live there because she built the home with her husband.

In this case, a new phone number is likely the source of the problem.

Other times, the caller knows a lot about the person on the other end. f you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to fall for the phony debt collector. Consumers report that the caller knows the last four digits of their social security number and their place of employment.

With the extensive personal information that is known, it appears there was some sort of data breach. Often the calls are about payday loans. Some of the people receiving the calls have used payday loans in the past.

How to stop fake debt collectors

So, what can she do to stop these calls for a debt she doesn’t owe? Keep a call log of all the calls. Try to get information like who is calling, the name of the company, and a return phone number. You can use that information to find an address for the company. The address is the key to stopping the calls.

Whether you owe the debt or not, you can send a cease and desist letter to the creditor. Tell them to stop calling you. Send the letter certified mail so you know they received it. After the creditor receives the letter, they can’t contact you unless they are calling to tell you they will no longer call you or they are telling you a lawsuit will be filed in court.

If the calls continue, contact the Federal Trade Commission.

Data breach?

The BBB says the individual they heard from received multiple calls as late as 10:00 PM and the scammers called the individual’s place of employment.

I repeatedly called the company in question but never got a response. My question — why weren’t consumers notified? The company posted an alert on its website, but it wasn’t something past customers would see.

Most of the time when there is a breach of some kind, you are alerted by mail that your information was compromised. You’re usually told the extent of the breach including what information they got. Was enough stolen to steal your identity?

In this case, there wasn’t enough information stolen to steal someone’s identity but it’s still frightening. Consumers who get these calls should still be vigilant, because the basic personal information the phony debt collector has can be used to gather more information whether you give it up on the phone call or not.