Question: I hope you can help me. I’m getting four to five automated notification calls a day from a credit card company.
They’re looking for someone who used to have my phone number. I finally got fed up with the robocalls and pressed zero multiple times to be connected to someone.
A representative wanted all my personal information, including my name and mailing address. I refused to provide that, since I have no desire for a business relationship with the company.
I was on the phone for more than half an hour and spoke with four people, including two supervisors. I’m not sure this will fix the issue.
Even though I filled out a “non-solicitation” form, I’m not sure if it worked. Is there anything else I can do?
— Donald M., Washington
Answer: No one should call your number five times a day — not even someone trying to collect a debt.
Under federal law, debt collectors are not allowed to phone you repeatedly. They’re restricted from phoning you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. and they’re not allowed to call you at work if you ask them to stop.
(You can read more about what a debt collector can and can’t do on this helpful Federal Trade Commission page.)
Bottom line: a business can’t harass you by phone, and clearly that’s what this credit card company is doing.
How could something like this happen? Easy. The previous owner of your phone number might have given his credit card his phone number and authorized it to update him.
I had a similar case a few months ago with a woman whose dead mother was getting calls every day from her bank. Technically, that’s legal, but practically speaking it was the worst kind of torture a company could inflict on a survivor.
There’s an easy way to end this, and it doesn’t involve giving the company any of your personal information. You can ask your phone company for a new number. It’s an extreme solution – but it’s the only way to be sure.
I was faced with a similar problem a few years ago when I got a new phone installed. The calls came in every day, always asking for the same person, always from the same company, and there was no way to get rid of them.
I was naive; I thought that if I surrendered all the information they wanted, they’d go away.
They did — almost a year later. I should have just switched numbers.
By the way, this kind of activity (and particularly the robocalls) should be illegal. But it’s a gray area when it comes to the Federal Do Not Call Registry, because it’s not immediately clear who authorized the calls.
I would presume it’s the person who owned the line before, which means they are allowable. There has to be a better way to opt out of nuisance calls.
And if this harassment continues, please let me know. I’ll do my best to help.
Do you have a question for MintLife columnist and consumer advocate, Christopher Elliott? Head over to the Mint.com Facebook page and ask away!
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.