Midland Credit Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of Encore Capital Group; their telephone carrier is Pacific Bell Telephone Co., d/b/a AT&T California. I moved in November 2001 and was assigned a new phone number. I immediately began getting hang-up robocalls four and five times a day, every day for months. As AT&T / Pacific Bell California knew or should have known, their client Midland was using a common robocalling technique, designed to dial numbers again and again until some live person at the caller's business picks up. If there is no live person available at the caller's business, the robocall remains anonymous, and the hang-up calls continue indefinitely. Midland's caller ID showed "1 Unavailable." As Midland, Encore, and AT&T/Pacific Bell knew or should have known, this caller ID is deliberately designed to evade blocking (because there is not a full number); to evade anonymous call reject (because "1" is a number that tricks the program); and to prevent the call recipient both from returning calls and determining who is in fact calling. If I let the call go to answering machine, no message was ever left. If I picked up the call, nobody was ever there. I did pick up every time I was home, attempting to determine who was harassing me.
Finally, after months and months and literally hundreds of daily anonymous hangup calls, some live person picked up. This person immediately began haranguing me about a debt I did not owe, that had been incurred by someone with my common surname but who was not me and whom I did not know. I demanded to know who was calling, which this person attempted to evade revealing, but finally admitted was "MCM," with the refusal to provide any more information. I demanded that the calls stop because I was not the person they were seeking. However, the multiple daily "1 Unavailable" calls continued, and once again, I was not able to reach a live person no matter how often I picked up my phone.
I then got on the internet and learned that "MCM" is in fact Midland Credit Management, Inc.; that Encore is the company's parent; and that Pacific Bell d/b/a AT&T California is their carrier. The address I have given above for Midland is their Legal Department. Midland and Encore share the same physical address, which is 8875 Aero Drive, Suite 200, San Diego CA 92923. Encore's office phone is 877-445-4581; Midland's is 800-265-8825. Encore's Chairman and CEO is Karen Jennings, phone 415-542-9000, 140 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. At the time this was all occurring, I was being treated for cancer, and was very, very ill. I was unable to get any meaningful rest during the day because of these constant robocalls, but I could not turn off the ringer because I could not risk missing calls from my doctors, the people who were driving me to numerous treatments and appointments, my family members, etc. I kept picking up the phone whenever I could in hopes of connecting with a live person again, but to no avail. Finally, through internet research, I obtained a customer service number for Midland, and started calling that number to connect with a live person, which I did manage to do. I made numerous such calls and talked with numerous customer service people, all of whom promised to make the calls stop, but they never did. Thereafter nearly every time I got a robo hang-up call from them, I called customer service to complain, but nothing was ever done.
I finally obtained legal counsel, and the calls did finally stop, but continued sporadically for a while even after my attorney demanded that they stop. As it turned out, they had FOUR different collection accounts they were calling me on, and not any of those four people are me. We are in settlement discussions right now, and they are willing to pay damages and attorney fees, but they refuse to agree not to call me again, they want me to sign a written settlement agreement that excuses them from compliance with various laws, and they want to keep me from discussing this matter ever again with anyone. Because that is not acceptable to me, if they refuse to stop calling me, it appears this will not get settled after all. In response to their unacceptable settlement offer, I once again got on the internet, on a legal research engine, and discovered that they have been sued numerous, numerous times in both state and federal court; that they have recently paid nearly a million dollars in fines to the State of Maryland for illegal conduct; and that the state of Minnesota is now after them for illegal conduct. These people need to be stopped.
With this report, I am just starting to post my story on various websites and intend to contact various state and federal regulatory agencies as well, about what they have done to me, and are clearly doing to numerous others--in hopes that at some point these people will get the message that months and months of anonymous harassing phone calls, in my case to a completely innocent non-debtor, is just not acceptable. If you have been victimized by these people, please contact an attorney. The internet is full of advertisements for attorneys who take cases against debt collectors for this kind of harassment. You can locate an attorney who will be willing to take the case on a contingent fee basis with no cost to you. Do it. These people have got to be taught a lesson and forced to comply with the law. So far nothing has fazed them. We need to change that; let's all rise up in protest and "occupy" Midland, Encore, and Pacific Bell d/b/a AT&T.