What To Do When You’ve Been “Tagged” for Someone Else’s Debt

Debt tagging occurs when collectors aggressively target the wrong person for a debt. This situation is usually caused by outdated information. Collectors erroneously report the outstanding debt to the three major credit bureaus, “tagging” the innocent person’s credit record. These cases exact a toll on victims by damaging credit and taking months to resolve.

Consumers can protect themselves by following these six tips:

1. Ask for it in writing. When a debt collector first calls, ask him to send a written notice within five business days, which he’s required to do by law.
2. Tell them that they are wrong. If you don’t owe the debt, tell the collector he’s got the wrong person. Ask for the collector’s mailing address. Send a letter restating that he’s got the wrong person, and ask him to stop contacting you.
3. Keep track of all calls. Track any subsequent calls from the collector.
4. Contact industry trade groups. If verbal and written communication doesn’t work, contact ACA International, (952) 926-6547. The collectors’ industry trade group can work to resolve problems through its ethics department.
5. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against aggressive collectors either online or by phone at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
6. Check your credit report on annualcreditreport.com, a government-approved source for free credit reporting information, to make sure the debt hasn’t been mistakenly attached to your report.