|Received:||10/30/2007 4:32:14 PM|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
|Rule:||Debt Collection Workshop|
Comments:Thanks to the FTC for posting the transcripts of the Debt Collection Workshop panel discussions. I now know skiptracing is the term for tracking down someone owing money. A documentary of my experience as an innocent victim of the collections industry would be called Skiptracing Gone Wild, an eye-popping revelation of some of the biggest boobs in the receivables business. Companies with stupid and unproductive customer contact techniques. Let me explain. ***** (1) April 2006 through February 2007. I received automated messages from three different phone numbers about an important business matter. Just a contact phone and reference number. Telemarketers hoping to get around the do not call list? After months with calls mostly coming every day, I contacted the FTC, the agency handling the Texas no call list, and also the local police. Then inspiration struck. A Google search for the words important business matter took me to a consumer complaint web site I had never seen before. I did a reverse look-up on all three numbers which had appeared on caller ID and discovered TruLogic Financial in Englewood, Colorado was the culprit. They were looking for someone whose last name was the same as my first name. ***** (2) With whocalled.us as new ammunition, I attacked another anonymous adversary. This time it was Creditors Interchange, Buffalo, New York--by way of Bangalore or Mumbai. I would have had to buy some vowels from Vanna, plus other letters to come up with the name they gave me. I suggested they might get better results calling people having that name. Good idea, they said. Unbelievable, I said. ***** (3) FMS in Tulsa, Oklahoma was after husband and wife perps, again with no reasonable name connection. Sorry, pards--Bonnie and Clyde went thataway. ***** (4) Insistent staccato musical notes. A news bulletin on my answering machine? Click. Later--the same thing! Failure to launch. On the third try, with a triumphant musical fanfare came a message of horror--it was the phone call from Dell! I put my honorary Lieutenant Columbo badge away for this one, no need to track these guys down. One return call to Round Rock, Tex--er, India, and the case was squared away. This time I had the same last name but not the same first name. But they intimated they called my number because their customer had given it to them. The terror was only beginning. ***** (5) October 2007, six months after pacifying Dell. Now, both the computer company and FMS (see item 3) were ready to rumble as tag team partners gunning for the delinquent Dell deadbeat. I was able to throw FMS out of the ring by catching them in a reverse look-up of my phone number on Switchboard.com. It was me against Dell. Dudes, I got an HP! After two tries, I thought I had this pinned down. I should have watched my back--suddenly FMA Alliance in Houston came out of nowhere for this same guy! I have asked the state attorney general to referee. ***** (6) I may have complaints but I also have suggestions. To the collections industry: be professional. I really am on your side. But identify yourselves when you get an answering machine or voicemail. Those of us who are innocent will call back ASAP. And despite the sanctimonious remarks of panelists in the Workshop connecting debt collection with law enforcement, do the police leave anonymous messages? Name of caller, name of company, who the call is for, and the reason for the call, please. But who am I to argue you into common sense and sanity? ***** (7) A reverse phone number look-up on Switchboard or Intelius will show if you should even call. I find only one name and address connected to my phone number, not the entire population of the United States. ***** (8) Finally, try using the latest tracking technology. Everyone who skips out on a debt should be implanted with a GPS locator chip until the money is paid. That should put them on the map.