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Tried to play nice, now I want a piece...


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I found this site via google, gotta love free advice:P

Here's my story, but before I get into it, I realize their are always two sides, so I'll try to remain neutral. I'm also leaving out names and other identifying information.

The story:

About a year ago I purchased a new cell phone from Verizon. I think it wasn't more than a couple of hours before I got my first call, from a bill collector looking someone who had this number before I. These calls were frequent and from multiple companies. Usually, they would politely apologize and go away, but only for a time.

After a couple of months, the calls would come again from a bunch of new guys. I'm almost positive the old bill collectors pass the information on to someone else, and 'forget' to include that their contact number is now a cell-phone that belongs to someone else. Again, usually they will believe I'm who I say I am, and stop calling.

One company, however, just refuses to think I'm not this guy. I even mailed a certified letter w/ return receipt to them containing a letter explaining the situation, asking them to stop calling, and containing a redacted copy of my cell phone bill containing my name and the number they keep calling.

That is where the firestorm began. After sending the letter, I started getting all kinds of nasty calls threatening me/this guy they think I am, with litigation. The first was that they have no way of proving it was legitimate, that I could have easily forged the bill. Then came the threats that they'll turn me in for fraud and forgery if I don't pay. I've gotten into some very serious name-calling arguments with 2 of their agents. Been told that if I just pay this bill, regardless of who I am, it will go away. And they don't even bother to ask for the person they were looking for originally. I've also seen that they have checked my credit report, which I have no idea why they think they have that right (as a business owner credit is very important to me and I watch it like a hawk.)

Now, these yo-yos are in South Carolina, and I'm in Ohio. I just want them to go away, and being self employed and 'motivated,' I will gladly travel down to their town to sue them.

So, how do I go about suing this company? Is this something I could tackle individually? If I need an attorney, do i find one in Ohio or South Carolina? And would it be reasonable to sue them for the cost of my time dealing with this and my expenses traveling down there, along with various fines I may be able to collect?

Thanks for any tips or advice. I've only ever been to the state while passing through, so I don't know poop about how things work down there. I do have a personal attorney for my business and family trusts, but I'd like to educate my self before talking to him.

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I think you can file suit in Ohio, I would say this is definatly a case of harrasment i would record the calls and contact your locak Police department and file harrassment charges, I would also send a letter to the Ohio AG's office and to the FTC and perhaps even the FCC. If this company is harrasing you for some one elses debt you may be able to send them a C&D letter and if they violate that you have even more amunition for a civil or even to file criminal harrasment charges. This is 100% my opinion and just ideas that I would possably do. But definatly Ohio is a one party state so i beleive you can record the conversation as long as you know about it lol... i would try to get the name and address of this company recorded as well as the collectors name...

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go to verizon, get a copy of your contract ( start date) it should clearly state when you got this number,

( mail a copy along with a complaint, and what ever else you have sent to the CA's showing they are calling wrong person) to the So.Carolina AG

Then give Verizon all the info you have on the people calling you, ask Them to "notify" the people calling that they have the wrong person, , maybe some form letter? this number belongs to X , this number was assigned to X on this date, prior to this date Number belonged to another customer..

then if they continue , you may have a claim, your clearly showing a nice paper trail on your part. since they havent Mail any demands and all phone calls, I would "assume"( probally wrong) they would just say, this is the number we have for X and Y hasnt "proved" anything otherwise..( ohh oops we bad so sorry to bother you) VS. Y Proved beyond doubt X is not at this number 500x and they still call..Y sufferd Q because of... ( asumme they pulled your Cr beacuse you gave a return address on you C&D) file in your state court using the "long arm statue" make them come to you..

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go to verizon, get a copy of your contract ( start date) it should clearly state when you got this number,

( mail a copy along with a complaint, and what ever else you have sent to the CA's showing they are calling wrong person) to the So.Carolina AG

Then give Verizon all the info you have on the people calling you, ask Them to "notify" the people calling that they have the wrong person, , maybe some form letter? this number belongs to X , this number was assigned to X on this date, prior to this date Number belonged to another customer..

You are much more forgiving than I 8-)

Why should the OP have to do ANYTHING? It is not their debt nor is it their problem. The problem lies with the collector. Pulling of a credit report without a permissible purpose is the least of their worries at this stage. I am particularly interested in knowing which collector it is and how the calls are made. There is potentially a very large pay day in this for the OP.

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I think you can file suit in Ohio, I would say this is definatly a case of harrasment i would record the calls and contact your locak Police department and file harrassment charges, I would also send a letter to the Ohio AG's office and to the FTC and perhaps even the FCC. If this company is harrasing you for some one elses debt you may be able to send them a C&D letter and if they violate that you have even more amunition for a civil or even to file criminal harrasment charges. This is 100% my opinion and just ideas that I would possably do. But definatly Ohio is a one party state so i beleive you can record the conversation as long as you know about it lol... i would try to get the name and address of this company recorded as well as the collectors name...

I started recording the phone calls after sending my certified letter, looked up the Ohio law about that.

I'm not sure what exactly constitutes a C&D letter, but in my case I made it quite explicit that I was not this person, I want them to stop calling, and I want my number removed from all records related to this debt.

I didn't send anything to the AG, but I did submit a complaint to the FCC online, which as far as I tell amounts to nothing.

As far as the debt, I don't know anything about it other than the person's name who they are trying to collect it from. Like I said, most of the companies believe what I say, and those that don't a 2-minute e-mail with my phone bill attached has been enough.

EDIT:

I really feel uncomfortable mentioning the company name, for now. As far as contacting method, I've been called by at least 2 separate people so far (sometimes they don't leave a message), via the same 800 number.

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You are much more forgiving than I 8-)

Why should the OP have to do ANYTHING? It is not their debt nor is it their problem. The problem lies with the collector. Pulling of a credit report without a permissible purpose is the least of their worries at this stage. I am particularly interested in knowing which collector it is and how the calls are made. There is potentially a very large pay day in this for the OP.

just phone calls may be a bit harder to get a judgement,,( CA, well people LIE to us all the time your honor, it was a honest mistake,, )

but cant deny something in writing as easy. and with several recordings added in.. your honor I Tried 100x to prove to these dumb A's its NOT me..heres the proof,, now i suffered, make them pay me 5000.00 for the headache

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just phone calls may be a bit harder to get a judgement,,( CA, well people LIE to us all the time your honor, it was a honest mistake,, )

but cant deny something in writing as easy. and with several recordings added in.. your honor I Tried 100x to prove to these dumb A's its NOT me..heres the proof,, now i suffered, make them pay me 5000.00 for the headache

It depends on which legislation you are relying upon to sue under. ;) Give me a collector with an auto dialer who is calling a cell phone when they never had my express permission and I will give you $500 statutory damages and I will then give you a statutory $1,500 for each and every call after they were told to stop in writing as it is then willful disregard. Oh and the breach is absolute so I dont care if they claim they thought they were calling someone else or not.

10 calls are very very expensive and you get to sue in state court.

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It depends on which legislation you are relying upon to sue under. ;) Give me a collector with an auto dialer who is calling a cell phone when they never had my express permission and I will give you $500 statutory damages and I will then give you a statutory $1,500 for each and every call after they were told to stop in writing as it is then willful disregard.

10 calls are very very expensive and you get to sue in state court.

op should also get a copy of thier phone records, highlight every call from the CA, I say OP should wait awhile longer to file against them, let the damages add up,hit the "civil" court and you could get alot more,,up to say 75,000 Vs 5000, a good atty would drool over that many violations, 10 is good 20 Is Great , 30 WOW..

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I started recording the phone calls after sending my certified letter, looked up the Ohio law about that.

I'm not sure what exactly constitutes a C&D letter, but in my case I made it quite explicit that I was not this person, I want them to stop calling, and I want my number removed from all records related to this debt.

I didn't send anything to the AG, but I did submit a complaint to the FCC online, which as far as I tell amounts to nothing.

As far as the debt, I don't know anything about it other than the person's name who they are trying to collect it from. Like I said, most of the companies believe what I say, and those that don't a 2-minute e-mail with my phone bill attached has been enough.

EDIT:

I really feel uncomfortable mentioning the company name, for now. As far as contacting method, I've been called by at least 2 separate people so far (sometimes they don't leave a message), via the same 800 number.

The reason for asking who they are is because the chances are that someone here will probably know one heck of a lot about how they operate and past history. That information is very useful in forming an opinion as to how best to handle a situation.

Can you tell me if they were using an autodialer. That is very important in deed. How would you know? Well if we had the company name we probably already know the answer for sure. Otherwise do you have a short time between you answering and the phone being connected to a live person even 1 or 2 seconds? Is there music or a message asking you to hold before being connected to a live operator? That is almost certainly an auto dialer. You have very specific legislation protecting you if this is the case but we need to know the answer first.

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Sounds like the best thing to do is collect my records while I try to garner more information.

So is the consensus to find a local attorney or state attorney?

EDIT:

Sometimes it's a direct call, sometimes it's a wait and hold thing... that one really drives me nuts. The problem is their callerID doesn't show up, so I don't ever know if I'm getting a legitimate call, so I have to answer.

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Sounds like the best thing to do is collect my records while I try to garner more information.

So is the consensus to find a local attorney or state attorney?

EDIT:

Sometimes it's a direct call, sometimes it's a wait and hold thing... that one really drives me nuts. The problem is their callerID doesn't show up, so I don't ever know if I'm getting a legitimate call, so I have to answer.

mark the exact time of the calls, have Verizon get the number for you. can you set your cell to reject "unknown " calls? this should make them unblock the number.. i know you can do this with a home phone

a Consumer Rights Atty, or NACA atty, remeber they will charge you about 200+ a HR,, thats why I say get ALOT of proof ahead of time, so you can nego with the atty on fees, more work you do, less atty has to do, saves $

and your case looks solid.

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Sounds like the best thing to do is collect my records while I try to garner more information.

So is the consensus to find a local attorney or state attorney?

EDIT:

Sometimes it's a direct call, sometimes it's a wait and hold thing... that one really drives me nuts. The problem is their callerID doesn't show up, so I don't ever know if I'm getting a legitimate call, so I have to answer.

Wait and hold is an autodialer. You do not need need an attorney. You can sue pro se in State court.

You have already written to them yes? You have already told them on the phone to stop calling you yes?

Now write to them something along the lines of the following:-

Dear Sirs

RE My Cell number xxx-xxx-xxxx

At time on date a call was placed to the above number by an automated dialer which originated from xxx-xxx-xxxx. This number has been identified as belonging to you.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is a Federal law which states “It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States (A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice—to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call;”

You do not now nor have you ever had my express consent to call me on my cell phone. I do not have any business relationship with you. For the avoidance of doubt not only must you NEVER call me on my cell phone, but it is ALWAYS inconvenient for me to accept any calls from you on ANY number.

I advised your representative that this number was a cellular phone and in any case I was not the person you are attempting to contact. I further advised them to cease calling my cell phone.

I followed this up in writing to you on (Date) and a copy is attached for your records.

The TCPA provides a private right of action in STATE court for anyone that is aggrieved by another person. The penalty is actual damages or $500 per call whichever is the greater.

I have since received further calls on my cell form you on

List dates and times.

These calls are after I informed you this was a cell phone and to stop calling. These calls are therefore willful and knowing.

A willful and knowing breach of the act attracts triple penalties in the sum of $1500 per violation.

These violations are based upon strict liability.

I intend to pursue each and every continued breach of the act. It is therefore in your interests to cease and desist from further illegal activity.

Be advised that all calls to my cell and home number are recorded.

I am willing to accept the sum of ( Insert $500 for the first call plus $1500 for every call afterwards) to liquidate the damages due to me in respect of these breaches contingent upon me receiving cleared funds from you in that sum within 7 days from the date of this letter together with a large bouquet of flowers delivered to my home address.

Such liquidation is in respect of the breaches listed above only. I reserve the right to sue on any further and/or continued breaches.

I also require a written undertaking that you will cease and desist any and all further unlawful activity.

Please make your check payable to (insert name.)

I reserve the right to produce this letter to a Judge in any court proceedings as evidence of my attempt to settle this matter in good faith.

Yours sincerely

Your Good Friend Fred

Of course you can sue again if they call again.

Treat this separately to any FDCPA breaches that may give rise to action. Why cause them to miss out on the chance to pay their legal costs more than once?

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Just a quick follow up.

I followed the advice on these forums and talked to my current attorney. Turns out his partner practiced tax and debt law for a time, and was familiar with these matters.

Everything looks to be settled to my satisfaction, and I couldn't be more pleased.

What was most amazing, was learning how often this is practiced. As I told my story to some friends and family over the memorial day BBQ, I learned that many people have experienced these same 'nuisance' calls. Apparently, in this industry these companies believe everyone is guilty until proven innocent, and it is all to common to bother anyone and everyone with persistent and annoying phone calls.

Interestingly, I today just received a call on my home phone from someone looking for a lady in an entirely different state! Hopefully this will not involve the leg-work and lost productivity like my previous incident did.

So, to anyone else out there receiving these calls for friends, family, neighbors or, as in my case, total strangers... don't be afraid to stand up for your rights. You didn't do anything wrong, and it's not your fault their information is incorrect. I learned it's up to the agency to verify any information, and SOP is to ignore any complaints and just send out a tidal wave hoping to get any payoff from anyone.

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