Unwanted phone calls

I’ve been receiving threatening calls from a debt collector about a bill that my brother failed to pay. I explained that I am not the account holder, but the calls continue. What can I do?
C. Gibbons, Indianapolis

No one likes calls from bill collectors, even less so when the debt is not theirs. In a case where the debt collector is attempting to obtain location information about a consumer, he is allowed to speak to someone other than the person who owes the debt, but only once, and the collector must identify himself and not mention that the person he is trying to locate owes any debt.

In any case, it’s clear that the repeated phone calls have exceeded that limit. So, what’s next? Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, unless your brother granted permission, the debt collector is not permitted to contact anyone other than your brother, his lawyer, a credit reporting bureau, the creditor, or the creditor’s lawyer.

Debt collectors are also limited in how they can communicate with consumers. For instance, they are generally limited to making such calls between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. and prevented from calling your place of employment if they know that your employer may object.

If you are being harassed, the best thing for you to do is to write a letter
that clearly demands your desire for
the harassment to cease. If this does
not suffice, you can file a complaint
with the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).

Online sample sales

  • Hate crowds? Browse virtual racks from the comfort of your home.
  • A-List (www.alistsamplesale.com) offers high-end clothing in a wide variety of sizes at discounts of up to 75% below retail.
  • LuLu Shop Online (www.planetlulu.com) has 3,000 items from more than 30 top designers.
  • Thrifty Chick (www.thriftychick.com) features a list of sample sales, a daily blog, and a newsletter covering the ins and outs of sample-sale shopping.