How to Hide From the Debt Collector

Writing this article is a bit of a double-edged sword. You see while I think that open communication is always the best way to deal with a debt situation, sometimes people just need to find a way to escape from the pressure just to recover their sanity.

If you are having a difficult problem handling collection calls or dealing with mail from collectors, then you can implement the following steps to get back some peace of mind and stop the din of collection attempts from driving you crazy.

Avoiding the debt collector does not change the reality of your financial situation and like time, it will march on no matter if you want it to or not.

The three major components you’ll need to change will be your telephone, mail delivery, and credit report.

Telephone

Never call a debt collector on a toll-free number or a direct number if you don’t want them to know the number you are calling from.

If you call a toll-free number you will not be able to block the collector from getting your caller information even if you have caller ID block that prevents others from seeing your number. A debt collector my use a local number for you to call that points to a toll-free number and get your calling phone number that way. You would not be able to tell that it went to a toll-free number and reveled your number.

Here is how you deal with that situation:

Get two no-contract prepaid phones. Use one phone for family and friends, use the second only for calling banks, credit card companies and debt collectors.

Never call the debt collector or banks from your family and friend prepaid phone. Never. When you can’t deal with the debt collection calls, turn the second phone off to get a brain break.

Whatever you do, do not transfer your old telephone number. You need to break the connection from your old number.

Be sure to either disconnect or unplug your old landline or old cellphones that collectors may have. Now that you have gone mobile, you might consider just canceling your old landline to save money.

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If you have neighbors that you are not immediate family and friends but who may have your old telephone number, be sure to update them with your new debt collector line number. Debt collectors may try to hunt you down by calling your neighbors to get your number.

A debt collector will look up the names and numbers of people living right around you by using your address. They use something called a reverse directory to do that.

Tell friends and family to never give out your new private number to anyone. Never!

Mail

Signup with a service like Earth Class Mail and use them for all your mail from this point forward. These services have street addresses you can use for your mail to be delivered to.

You can notify the post office of your new mailing address using this online form.

Debt collectors will get notification of your change of address to your new mail service. Since they will have a new street address for you it will confuse them where you are actually living.

With a virtual address, you will be able to see your mail online. When your mail arrives it will be opened and scanned so you can view it when you are ready to deal with it.

For people that are going through tough financial problems and finding themselves disorganized and not wanting to deal with the mail, using a virtual mail service will allow you to keep copies of all your correspondence online indefinitely.

This is really a critical feature if a creditor is demanding an old statement or notice from you or you get correspondence you need to forward to someone else. When you are a virtual mailing address you can forward them a copy electronically since it is already scanned and online for you.

I can’t stress enough how great of a feature this is. Even if you are working with a debt management company, the ability for you to forward critical correspondence at the click of a mouse makes it so much easier than hunting down a photocopier and mailing off a copy of a statement or document. Rather than take days to forward information, it will take seconds.

Update Your Credit Report

Creditors and debt collectors use loads of online database information, like credit reports, to chase debtors. Once you get your new mailing address and new creditor phone to use, order this consolidated credit report (it is the one I like the best) and then using the contact information on the credit report, contact the three main credit bureaus and update your telephone and mailing address with them. This will feed your new information to the creditors and start the hiding process for you. Having a new copy of your credit report will also give you an opportunity to look for any evidence of identity theft and small old accounts that might be past due but not chasing you at the moment.

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Not Foolproof, But Really Effective

These three simple steps will not keep you entirely hidden from someone that wanted to spend a lot of time to hunt you down, but it will shield you from 97% of the chatter and grief you are getting right now.

When you have dealt with your situation and are ready to move forward with your life then you can change your information back to where you are now living.

Hiding from the debt collector when you can’t take the pressure anymore is a bit like needing to escape to rehab when your life is spinning out of control.

Use this information wisely and get professional help to deal with the underlying financial problem by talking to a bankruptcy lawyer, considering a debt management program or asking me for free help and advice.

Keep in mind, hiding from a debt collector does not make the underlying problem magically go away. It just gives you a brain break to better deal with it once you feel able or can enlist competent help to deal with the debt.

First Published: October 8, 2008.

44 thoughts on “How to Hide From the Debt Collector”

  1. I live in the state of Arkansas which has a two year statue of limitation for medical. About three years ago I had to get an ambulance in the state of Minnesota. Today, a little more than three years later, I have a debt collector from the state of Wisconsin trying to contact me about an ambulance bill that insurance was supposed to pay but did not because the hospital never sent them the bill. . The statue of limitations for MN is 6 years I think. My question is, is my statue of limitation covered under the state where I officially live which is Arkansas or is it where the services was rendered which is the state of Minnesota?

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  2. Or you can just go off the grid like I did. That means no contact with family or friends. My parents don’t even know where I live anymore for the last 7 years. If you pull your own credit report use a past address. I am just starting to get back on my feet. But the most effective thing I found is just go off the grid completely. I rent a room so utilities are not in my name  so they can’t track you that way. And get a Google Voice number!
    I have a lot of other tricks. Since I used to work for a major bank and also did skip tracing I know the ins and outs. Nobody can find me. I am MIA.

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  3. I move state during a difficult time in my marriage. We lost our home due to my husband having lost his job, being the major bread winner in the family We recently got divorced and he wants to file bankruptcy. Will creditors come after me for collections on contracts that he & I signed, even if I have moved to another state? 

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  4. Is it legal/lawful for a Post Office employee to serve legal papers to a boxholder?  My P O Box has been blocked, and I have been denied access since Feb 12, 2012.  I have had that box & its predecessors since 1971. Early in the week of Feb 6th, there was an application for PO Box in my box, wanting me to fill out address, and phone #. I typed up a list of questions as to why they wanted this, and put it back in the box.  Then the box was blocked  I believe this is because of the Discover lawyer.  The Post Office is adamant about me coming in with their form, then they would unblock the box, and give me my mail.  I think they are intending to serve me with legal papers for the debt collector lawyer.   I have been fighting Discover since January 2011 over a credit card account I discharged in Oct 2010 in full, with a Letter of Credit, which they never returned to me.  Therefore, under UCC 3-603, that means the debt was discharged.

    The lawyer never actually validated the debt, nor would he answer any of my questions about it.

    A process server showed up at my home address, and was turned away because she did not ask for me.  She stuck the papers in the door handle.  My Authorized Representative retrieved them, called the law firm the next day and told them I don’t live there now.

    All correspondence with Discover and the lawyer had been to the Post Office Box. So I feel the reason for the mess with the PO Box is because of the lawyer.  I filed a written complaint with the Postmaster, but they won’t answer any of my questions.

    Is there any action I can take against the Post Office, or the person who authorized the blocking of my box?  The box rent is paid through the end of March 2012.

    Sorry this is so long. Thanks.

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  5. I used to work for a Canadian Company that deals with Debt collection in the U.S. It was amazing to me how easy a Debtor could escape from having to pay their debt. The first thing that you do is check something called “Choice of Law” – they are the new state provisions with regards to statutes in the United States. Take for instance, if you have a Chase account and you live in Ohio, the account is statute barred 3 years after the last payment date. The creditor or the collection CANNOT touch you after that and they have to immediately close all accounts. Also, never make a payment because if you do, that is what the statute date is calculated from. The other thing to do is never have any assets in your name because if you do, you will automatically be taken to court at some point because once we get a judgment, then we can put a lien on your property. The best thing to do, especially if you have a judgment against you is to move to another state. The collection agency will have to find you first and then order an Exemplified Judgment to transfer over to the new state and if you are going to move, move to a state that has a short statute. You can go to EarthClassMail.com and get a ficticious address in another state and then make sure you let the Credit Bureau and all your existing creditors know that you still have accounts with. They will get the mail and forward it on to you. You want to make it look like you live in another city and they will have to move your file at the lawyers firm over to the new state. This all costs money and realistically, the collection agency wont spend money on an account to sue if they are not going to recover much. Also, always tell a collection agency that you have had a brain injury and you are not able to ever work and then change you number often and move around often. They can only send to trace every 6 months. Do that until the statue runs out. 🙂

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