Ask LH: What Can I Do If Someone Is Giving Out My Contact Details As Theirs?

Dear Lifehacker, What can I do about someone giving out my phone number as their contact for financial matters? I keep getting phone calls looking for an old housemate from debt collectors. I tell them that this isn’t his phone number, but they keep calling anyway. I don’t want to change my phone number as I have had it for a very long time. Is them giving out my phone number illegal? Thanks, TheWrongMan

Phone image via Shutterstock

Dear TRM,

If your number has been saved in debt collectors’ records it can often be a pain to get that number removed so that they stop calling you. Often this happens after a change of number or address means you have ended up with the indebted person’s details. If a former housemate is actively giving out your details as his own, however, the situation is a little more complicated.

The good news is that this is actually a matter where you can get the police involved, as this type of activity can be considered fraud (from the NSW police, one type of fraud is defined as ‘Creation of bank accounts and drivers licences whilst using fake details’). You should report this to police through Crime Stoppers, which has both an online form and a phone number you can call.

As for getting the debt collectors to stop calling you — firstly you should request that they remove your number from their records that are associated with another person. This may not work for all collectors, however. If you know the details of the person they should be calling, pass them on to anyone who calls at the same time — debt collectors are just trying to collect debts from the people who owe them, so it doesn’t benefit them to be calling the wrong person.

Some companies might require some sort of documentation to be able to remove your number from their records, so collect their contact information if you can and ask them about any relevant processes you can undertake. If they are particularly insistent, you can always get your phone company to block the number (though this is only a temporary solution if the debt ends up being sold on).


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