Debt collection calls that aren't yours

April 7, 2009 4:14:20 PM PDT
Like a lot of people Deborah Morton has an unusual ring tone, but it is nothing compared to the unusual debt collections calls she's been getting."I have been receiving calls from a loan company trying to collect on a bad debt from a woman that I used to know three years ago," she told us. "I don't know where she is, I don't know how to get in touch with her."

Morton says the woman who really owes the money may have listed Morton as a contact on the original loan, but as she said, Morton has not seen that person in years.

"I have told them repeatedly, 'I don't know where she is, I don't know how to get in touch with her, please take me off the list, please quit calling me,'" Morton said.

Even so, the calls kept coming. At first they came just once a month, then more often than that.

"Ended up being once or twice a week, sometimes a couple of times a day, they are relentless, they will not understand that I do not know her," Morton described.

The calls are coming from Tiempo Loans. While Morton is not listed as the person who got a loan, she is listed as a contact. No one wanted to speak with us on camera about the calls, but a manager promised to remove Morton's name from their collection contact list.

But what about all those calls? Isn't that supposed to be against federal debt collection laws?

"If this was a debt collector trying to collect a debt for another business, she'd be in very good shape because the federal law would apply," said University of Houston law professor Richard Alderman.

But since Tiempo is calling on a debt owed to it, the People's Lawyer says the company is not violating federal debt collection laws. In his opinion, they may be running afoul of the Texas debt collection act though.

"The Texas law does not give you the right to any punitive damages in that she cannot simply say, 'I can go to small claims court,'" Alderman explained.

Morton says she is going to report the loan company to the attorney general's office, which is what Alderman says anyone should do if they are getting debt calls from a company you do not owe money. What protections do consumers have under the federal law?

Quite a bit, they can't call you after 9pm or before 8am and they have to stop all contact if you write telling them to stop. This only applies to companies collecting a debt for someone else, not the original company, keep that in mind.

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