Friday, December 23, 2011

When Debt Collectors Have the Wrong Address

In the hilarious movie Ruthless People there is a scene in which Danny DiVito gets a phone call that is a wrong number. After listening politely to the caller, a smirk comes over DiVito's face as he says "I'm sorry. She's busy right now. She has my cock in her mouth." DiVito then slams down the phone and with a smile on his faces says "I love wrong numbers."

If it was possible to do the same with mail being sent from debt collectors to someone who lived at my address before me I would gladly do it. Unfortunately I do not know the former resident's current address (or do the bill collectors) or I would do it.

Since moving to my current residence on February 28, 2011, my mail box has been regularly cluttered with mail for a Laura Riley who obviously used to live at my address. There were lots of letters and they came from all manner of collection agencies. At first I would write "not at this address" across the front of the envelope and drop it back in the mailbox hoping the post office would return it to the sender and the sender would get the hint.

The senders kept sending her letters. Finally in July I started opening her letters to see what this volume of mail was all about. I would read the letters and then toss them in the recycling bin. Certainly, I thought, Ms. Riley must be an adult to have been able to rent a townhouse. And certainly as an adult she had the common sense to file a mail forwarding request with the US Postal Service. However as time wore on it was apparent that being efficient and responsible were not in Ms. Riley's vocabulary.

Today, for the umpteenth time, a letter appeared for Ms. Riley from ARA a bill collector in Villa Park, Illinois. Finally having reached the limit of wanting to deal with Mr. Riley's mail any longer I decided to fight back. From now on when a bill collector letter comes for her I'm calling the company and telling them she's not here. Ms. Riley is incapable of being responsible for her actions so I'll take care of some of those responsibilities for her. I called the company twice and then wrote them a letter.

When I contacted the company by phone I was put through to the "Collections Manager" (sounds like someone at a museum). I left that person a voice mail begging them to find Ms Riley and stop filling my mail box with her stuff. I then was connected with the collections agent who sent her the letter I received today. When I called her extension I was put through to voice mail and I left essentially the same message with that person as I did with the collections manager.

Then I decided, as a follow up to the voice mails, to send a letter to ARA and the collections agent regarding Ms. Riley and her inability to get her mail forwarded. That letter follows:
December 23, 2011

ARA Incorporated
Box 5022
Villa Park, Illinois 60181

Re: ARA File Number 332272


I am writing as a follow up to my phone call (left on your voice mail) today regarding both the referenced ARA file number and the person, Laura Riley, who is responsible for this account.

For the record – LAURA RILEY DOES NOT RESIDE AT (my address)

I have no idea who this person is but since I moved to this address on February 28, 2011, my mail box has been cluttered weekly with letters from your company and other collection agencies (and a couple of state tax revenue departments) regarding Ms. Riley’s various delinquencies.

I am writing to not only ask and request but beg you to stop sending collection information to Ms. Riley at this address because she does not live here. I have no idea where she is – perhaps you could do a search on her name. Check with the IRS for her current address. Send up smoke signals. Do whatever it takes to find her but PLEASE stop sending mail to her at this address. She is apparently an adult and should be responsible enough to have filed a forwarding information card with the US Postal Service so she can get her mail at the proper address. This is all her problem, not mine. I’m just fed up with getting her mail.

Thanks for your attention to this request. I hope you find her and I hope you get your funds from her. Perhaps when you do you can give her a handful of mail forwarding cards so she can get her mail at her address not mine.

Attachment – Incoming from ARA Inc
Its unfortunate that my phone number is not the same as the one Ms Riley had when she lived in my house. If it was and I started getting phone calls for her from collection agencies I think I'd recount verbatim what Danny DiVito said to his wrong number in that movie :)