Bill Collectors Looking for Someone Else

Updated on April 30, 2013
S.D. asks from Essex Junction, VT
23 answers

Hi ladies! My mom has been getting calls from bill collectors recently looking for my brother, who hasn't lived in her house for 30+ years. We've always held the belief that you shouldn't give people's phone numbers and addresses away without that person's permission, but I'm wondering if now it's time for my mom to do just that. This is not the first time this has happened, more like the 6th or so and she's so tired of dealing with it. They even called me once and I live 2000 miles away from him. Eventually, after we tell them that we have no idea where he is or how to reach him and would they please stop bothering us, they will go away only to show up again a couple years later. My brother is married now to someone with as bad, if not worse, credit as him and they are always having money problems. They got married recently (well, almost 3 years ago now) and planned a $20,000 wedding even though only one of them is working and it's not exactly a high paying job and then one month before the wedding, they came to my mom's house several times a week, every week (more than she'd seen them in the last year), harrassing her and basically bullying her into lending them the money for the wedding. They still owe her over $10,000 and show no sign of intending to pay the rest back. My mom is fed up enough with their antics that she's actually leaving the state she loves and moving out to be near me to get away from all this stuff. We joke that the cash cow is headig for greener pastures. Needless to say, my brother and SIL are furious. And then after my mom told them she's leaving, she started getting the bill collector calls. Should she give my brother's phone number or address out or just keep telling them to leave her alone? What would you do?

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answers from Boca Raton on

I liked Kristina's answer.

When it happens here (for an extended family member) my answer is always "There is nobody here by that name - please STOP calling this number." And if they persist I say that I don't give out personal info over the phone but I will confirm, again, that nobody by that name lives here.

It generally works but I like what Kristina mentioned about the letter.

I would review the site, too, for the legalities pertaining to debt collection.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Just keep saying 'he doesn't live here'. They know the number from past records. When she moves, the calls will stop. Esp. if she gets a # that she only gives to the son and a different # for everyone else.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Chicago on

They are calling people that HE put down as references on his innitial loan(s) and you are now an official contact for him. They do not HAVE to leave you alone with out a C&D letter from a lawyer as this is perfectly legal. The reason why it happens every few years is that they attempt to collect - respect wishes of no contact out of good business - sell the debt to a new company and it starts OVER from scratch. The best ways to get them away from you is a C&D from a lawyer (or legal website like, and to change contact info and not be listed. Here is the thing if you give info you WILL be contacted again with out legal back up. Notes are kept and *SHOULD* be transfered with the sale. On something past due a good collector will go thru the notes and see that Mom or Sis or collectors favorites ex wives/husbands have given up the goods and try to get them again when info has obviously changed. This is a rabbit hole it sounds like your Mom does not want to go down - so I suggest a C&D letter, and for her to be unlisted when she moves.

- I am a former debt collector these are common practices.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I have been through this recently with my mom. Except the debtor is my father, and they have been divorced, with no contact, for 30 years. They will not stop calling, and they will become more frequent, and more rude.
When they call, have her jot down the number. Then google it to find out the company's name that's calling. The next time they call, make sure she tells she knows who they are and to stop calling or she'll have a cease and desist order drawn up.
This finally worked for my mom. Hope this helps.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on


Personally I believe that if you create the debts, you owe the debts and giving out their phone number or address is not selling them out.

I'm sure these bill collectors know their numbers and where to reach them. They just aren't responding so now they are harassing family to try to recollect the debts.

I would have sold them out LONG ago.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Yes. Give the name and number immediately and follow up with a letter to the bill collection agency indicating the person you spoke to, date and summary of the call. Include your brother's current contact information and insist that they stop harassing your mother (and use that word).

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Can she file the $10,000 debt he owes her with the collection agency and then give his number and address to them so they can help her collect what is owed her?
Seems to me the collection agency could be working for her.
AND when your brother knows his Mom sic'd the agency onto him, maybe he'll stop coming around to mooch any more off her too.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Your mom's phone number and address are most likely listed in public records as your brother's relative. I am a debt collector, and we use public records to track down debtors. Public record websites will often list the names and phone numbers of previous known residences, relatives and neighbors. Your brother may have listed your mom as a contact in case he was unreachable.

It is up to your mom on how to proceed. I personally would give them his number and address and then ask them to stop calling me. If the creditors can reach your brother, they will not have any need to call other people to track him down.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You can tell them that he doesn't live there and that they need to stop harassing you. There are rules for debt collection. Go to the website to make sure you know your rights, even if it IS your debt.

I got contacted more than once about my DH's ex's ex or my mom's ex and their debts. They just look for an association, any association. I told them that I had no contact with either of them and to stop harassing us. They left us alone.

As for your mom and BIL and SIL, she needs to close the bank and keep it closed and treat THEM like harassing bill collectors.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think she should give them your brother's number, but i also understand how very hard that is for a mother to do.
but if she doesn't, the collection agencies won't quit. this is their livelihood, they don't get paid by being nice and reasonable. the bill has been sold to the collection agency, and now they only make their own payroll by getting that money back. your mom can get as angry as she wants, but the same cycle will continue until someone dies or the bill is paid.
my parents-in-law are in this situation. their son stole their identity, racked up breathtaking debt in their name, then committed suicide when it became clear that the feds were closing in. at no time would his parents 'betray' him by turning him in, and of course, after he died, his memory became sacrosanct. they still think they are protecting him. they have no assets in their own names, live in their daughter's basement, and were shocked- SHOCKED!- when this past week they discovered that when they die, their life insurance will go to pay their son's debt, not to take care of each other or leave anything for the kids who have supported and NOT stolen from them.
sometimes love means making the loved one face up to their bad decisions, and the obligations that come with them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Unless you want more fights on your hands from your BIL, the best thing to say is, "I'm sorry, but you have the wrong number", and then hang up.

The reason this happens every few years is that a new collections service gets the account, and they start over trying to collect. They use the numbers they've got.

Your mother is at fault for loaning them money, pure and simple. She needs to get her spine in gear and stop giving them anything. If moving will help her get her spine, then she should do that. Because quite frankly, when they DO find out where he is, he'll be at her door again asking for money to pay his bill collectors...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

People that continue to incur debts that they do not intend to pay back deserve some grief from collection agencies. I would suggest to your mother that she give them his phone number/address and tell them not to call her anymore and that it would be harassment for them to continue to do so.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I've gotten collectors calling for people who don't live in my home several times. I wait through the automated message for a real person and let them know that the person they are looking for doesn't live at this number and to please remove my number from their call-list.

For some of the automated collectors, if you wait, it will prompt you to press 4 or * or # if the person they're looking for doesn't live at or use you number.

Regardless, I always wait and let them know that they're calling the wrong number. That's all they need to know. They don't need to know your relationship to the person.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Edited to add this link:

It talks about the rights someone who is being collected on has, & specifically details what debt collectors can & cannot do when calling friends/family members. For example, they cannot disclose that they are attempting to collect a debt if they do not directly reach the person who owes the debt.
If you are not the person they are looking for & do not ask them to call back, they cannot call more than once.
These are regulations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,

Original Post:
These bill collectors are unsuccessful in obtaining a response from your brother, so they are resorting to bullying tactics. By using the internet, they are able to find numbers of people who "might" be related.

Unfortunately, it sounds like you & your mother did confirm that you konw him.

We had this happen a couple of times - once for a family member (my stepmom of all people, why would they think me with my married name would be related to her with her maiden name??) & once for someone I'd never even heard of!

Both times I said I didn't know the person they were looking for & no one by that name was at this number. After a 2nd call from the agency, I threatened legal action for harrassment. Amazingly, never received calls again! =-)

This is becoming a more & more common practice. The companies use any resources they can to get information for following up on debts, because they don't get paid until the debts are collected.

Giving them your brother's phone # won't do any good... they probably have it! Your brother just isn't answering, or isn't following through they way they want him to.

Best advice - start acting like you are someone different (ie. not related) & say there's no one there by that name @ that number. Then get pushy & threaten if the calls persist. There are laws against harrassment by collection agencies, but until their hand is forced, they will continue to call in the hopes that it will yield them information towards payment.

So frustrating, I know! Best of luck! T.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It depends on how your mom is feeling. Personally, I would tell the collectors that he does not live at this number and to stop calling ASAP. There are laws about harassing calls by collectors. Have your mom ask to speak to the manager and say that she is getting harassing phone calls on a daily basis. That will put an end to it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

When my older sister moved back in with my parents she was 27. She had a lot of problems and debt was one of them. While she was on vacation in Jamaica (with her tax refund) I was getting collection calls for her. Really?!? I was HOT. I absolutely gave them her number and gave it to her when she got back too. It continued for a few more months until she got everything under control.

I'm happy to say that she is out of that boat, owns a gorgeous home, and her and my brother-in-law just bought a BWM yesterday! But they went without for a long time to get their debt in control.

Your mom moving will force your brother and SIL to do the same thing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

It depends on how much of a nuisance they are to her. I am not bothered by other people's collection calls, because I don't feel an obligation to answer the phone just because it rings and I never feel bullied or harassed when I can hang up at any time. I would not give them any information; I would not talk to them at all. If it bothers your mother so much that she needs to get them off her back--which is their goal, anyway, besides payment--then she should point them in his direction. I'm tempted to say that she should just do it, anyway; but when they start calling him directly, he'll likely turn to her for help, especially if he learns that she's the one who gave them his number. Will she feel guilty and give him money? it could be better for her in the long run to just remove herself and ignore all of them.

He is not the one with the problem here. Your mother is. He's her son, and she loves him, and she likely feels some sense of responsibility for how he has turned out. She's got to get over that encourage him (because she can't make him at this stage) to take his medicine. Or live with enabling him for the rest of her life.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

This is just not worth your time and effort. When they call just say, "Sorry, wrong number," and hang up.

There is no reason for you to do more than that.

There is no reason for you to give out his info, as they already have it. But he's still not paying his bills, so they're are calling you in the hopes that you will.

This is not your problem. "Sorry, wrong number," CLICK!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Who's the bad guy here? Yes, your brother. Not the collectors. Tell them the truth and provide all the necessary contact info you have access to to send them in the right direction. As well as telling them that you no longer have contact with him.

Such games people play. Your mom has probably allowed her son to do more harm in many areas of his life, not just financial ones, and he's probably seldom had consequences. What do you think?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I get calls for people we don't know and we've had our number for 11 years. Just when we think the calls have stopped, one will pop up. Occasionally, we will get them for people we do know (who have never lived in our home or had our number) because of the cross referencing via the web. We simply say "I'm sorry, you have the wrong number. Please don't call again". When/if they do, I ask for a manager.

I wouldn't give the number out personally, that is the bill collector's job (to track them down), not mind to hand them over. But if I were your mom, I would have my number disconnected when I moved and not leave a forwarding number. Only give that to those she wants to have it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sioux City on

I would give his contact information. If he never faces the mess he has gotten himself into he won't get himself out of it or quit spending the money. He racked up the bills and now it's time to pay the piper.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I had that same problem with my SS. I didn't give an exact address, but I did tell them that last I knew, he had moved to Nevada. They said they would take our phone number off of the file. Ever since I gave that information, I haven't been bothered. So,. she might try giving them some sketchy information and telling them not to call her again and if they do, she will report them for harassing her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you google ANYONE'S name you get their name and those who might be related. It's sort of nice to have if you're trying to find someone to let them know they left their stuff at your garage sale or something. I have a checkbook at the store right now that has their name but no phone number on it. They'll be back in on Thursday so I'm not too worried about it. Plus they could go online to see where they wrote their last check and know where it's most likely waiting for them to come get it.

A friend I work with in the store started getting calls from all her hubby's family. She has cattle and someone was trying to get hold of them to let them know their bull had jumped the fence and it was having fun with the neighbors

If this google feature wasn't there then they may not have checked on their animals for a couple of days.

I tell them they have the wrong number and to remove it from their data base. If that doesn't work talk to a supervisor. That often makes them hang up.

I NEVER acknowledge that I know the person. It's actually none of their business. Just because they are calling you or mom doesn't mean that you owe them anything. If you give them anything they put you down as a good contact then your name and number goes on all the data bases.

Again, googling gives them this information, brother may not have put anyone on that bill. Chances are that he didn't put their name at all.

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