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Hof
March 8th, 2009, 03:22 PM
I had just sat down with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper, preparing to burn away a couple of quiet hours when the phone rang. It was the second call of the early morning, and without looking at the caller ID, I knew exactly who it was.
A collection agency, calling me about a debt that was not mine.

Yesterday, I got three of these calls, two of them from men with pronounced Indian accents. Friday, three others came in and there were two more who left messages.

They are all about my daughter, who defaulted on a couple thousand dollars in credit card bills back in 2002 and has the same last name as mine. Her then-boyfriend had run up the charges on HER cards while repairing HIS car, which, when it got fixed, he immediately hopped into it and left town, sticking my kid with the debt.

The calls began about six weeks ago.
On the first call I was polite and concise, telling the collector that I would contact my daughter and have her get in touch with him. (She lives about a hundred miles South, has NEVER used my address or phone number as a contact and I have never had anything to do with her finances for the last ten years, aside from loaning her a few hundred bucks at different times).

Within an hour, ANOTHER person called me about the same thing. Again, I politely told him that I would inform my daughter about the calls. When the THIRD call came, a few hours later, I lost it. I was no longer polite, concise or informative, and I confronted the caller by demanding to know WHY I was getting these calls. I shouted at him, lost my cool and demanded that he remove my phone number from his database.
He hung up on me.

When the fourth call came, I decided that raising my blood pressure was no longer an operative tactic, so I grew cool and calculating and began screwing with him. I told him, in clear and concise English, that I did not understand English.

"Everything that you just said sounds like a collection of pops and clicks to me", I said; "I understand nothing of what you have told me". He laughed derisively and said that HE thought I spoke English perfectly.
I replied that I spoke it well, I just didn't understand it. Then anything else that he said I just asked him "What--I don't understand you ???" until he hung up.

Well, I have fielded maybe 30 calls since. Many of them would make for great comedy schtik. Often, I answer with a made up language (once, I borrowed from the Beatles--"Quando para muche, que calida corazon..."). Sometimes I'll ask them to speak only in German or Farsi. Once, someone actually spoke German, so I quickly changed my language request to French, which caused them to hang up.
That's what I go for--the hangup, caused by Atomic Absurdity. I will NOT hang up--instead, I try to frustrate the caller so much that HE loses his cool and hangs up.

Sometimes I represent myself as my daughter...

"This is Linda--how can I help you"...
{ reply} "You are not Linda. Linda is a girl's name"...
"How do YOU know that I'm not a girl???...etc.

Or, "I'm sorry, but Linda moved to Costa Rica and doesn't call me anymore".
Or, "Linda's doing twenty to life--for killing a bill collector".

...but mostly I screw with their heads, asking off-the-wall questions ( "excuse me, how tall are you?", or, "what are you wearing right now??" or, "I have a question for you--is the liver a muscle or an organ ???) and I never--NEVER-- stoop to being rude or employing profanity.
Once, however, I took a call and laced it with the most vile profanity I could dream up. I said "Fck" a lot, and when the person calling asked me to tone my language down I told him, "I'm a "Fck"-sayer, pal. I say "fck" a lot--that makes me a minority and it's my option as a fck-saying minority to exercise my rights--now, do you have any more fcking questions???"

Usually, at some point during the call I tell the caller that this is all he will EVER get when he calls me, that I am deliberately messing with him and will do it as often as I get his calls. Then I ask him to please call again because I can always use a few laughs...

The calls are not from the credit card companies. They are from collection agencies that bought a bunch of outstanding debt that Visa or Mastercard long ago wrote off,and these vampires make their buck by harrassing people until they pay off long-forgotten bills. When they can't reach the debtor, they call anyone who has a similar name until they strike paydirt. My sister and my brother have also gotten calls about Linda's debt. Interestingly, Linda's phone number is a published number but she has never gotten a call.
But even when I inform them that they have the wrong number, the calls keep coming. I long ago decided that I would actually TAKE these calls, just to sharpen my comedic chops.

And, the callers are never the same person. Some come from call centers in India, some from obvious American phonerooms grinding out calls in places like Farmington, L.I. or Ames, Iowa, so each of my victims are fresh and have no idea what is in store for them.

These collection tactics have grown more numerous recently, due I suppose to the lousy economy-- but no matter, they are insulting, intrusive and improper, especially since I'm not the guy who owes the debt. I will continue to screw with them until I drive them away or until they realize that harrassing ME is a lost cause.

I wonder if anyone on this board gets these calls and how you handle them.

My advice?
If you do get calls from collection agencies-- and they are not legitimate calls-- go for the laugh. Go for the frustrated hangup, but most importantly, don't lose your cool. Break their
balls, give them back some of what they are raining on you. Make YOUR call the call from hell, something they will talk about during their curry breaks.
It's great sport and it fills in those empty moments when you are trying to read the paper or while waiting for the bagel to pop up from the toaster.

Oops--I have to go now; my phone is ringing...

scumonkey
March 8th, 2009, 03:44 PM
Good story, thanks for sharing.
I try to turn calls like those into free phone sex-
no matter what the gender of the caller.
Most don't last long before they hang up, but some...!!!

stache
March 9th, 2009, 12:34 AM
That's what I am considering to do as well.

lofter1
March 9th, 2009, 12:41 AM
Any excuse for our stache ...

stache
March 9th, 2009, 07:04 AM
*puts lofter on speed dial*...

Ninjahedge
March 9th, 2009, 11:32 AM
Sometime sthe only way to get them to stop is to ask for someone who makes more han dirt for their wages.

Ask to speak to a manager. Keep seeing how far up the line you can go. Waste their time. Stay on the line and say nothing sometimes, just try to cost them as much as possible.

If you DO get a manager, tell them that the person they are looking for does not live there and they are just wasting their time and money on a dead lead.

I am also sure you can find ways to do thnigs like file a complaint, or even get the phone company to block the number.

Amazing in this day and age you can't just do that yourself! ID the call and bounce it back.





Anyway, it is good to know that there are jobs out there, for people willing to do them! :rolleyes:

lofter1
March 9th, 2009, 11:55 AM
This gets them every time:

Immediately say you're busy, and ask what's the number where you can call them back.

I find they hang up nearly 100% of the time.

lofter1
March 9th, 2009, 11:56 AM
*puts lofter on speed dial*...

Still waiting ...

scumonkey
March 9th, 2009, 12:12 PM
What are you wearing....;)

lofter1
March 9th, 2009, 12:16 PM
None o' yer beeswax :p

Ninjahedge
March 9th, 2009, 02:10 PM
You wear beeswax??!?!?!?!? :eek:

lofter1
March 9th, 2009, 06:23 PM
Only whne I'm getting a brazilian :cool:

Ninjahedge
March 10th, 2009, 09:33 AM
Something special for the honey?

NYatKNIGHT
March 10th, 2009, 10:22 AM
...something they will talk about during their curry breaks.

:)