How Do Bill Collectors Get Cell Phone Numbers?

I am often asked how debt collectors get a hold of your cell phone or mobile phone number when you have not given it to them. It is actually very easy to do and best yet, you give it to them.

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.

Either the bill collector got your number that way, you listed it on a previous credit application that was shared with the credit bureau or the debt collector called someone you listed as an alternate contact on a previous credit application, or a neighbor, and got it from them.

If you feel you need to hide from the bill collector, read How to Hide From Debt Collection, the Debt Collector, and Creditors.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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16 thoughts on “How Do Bill Collectors Get Cell Phone Numbers?”

  1. i am a debt collector for a legitamite company, we get our numbers from a paid website source. which is very reliable. ii found so many people. but one thing is ur utility bills. if you ever gave ur utility company ur phone number or address they update info on ur credit report

  2. This information appears not to be true, regarding how cell phone numbers are obtained. I just got a new prepaid phone, and it is not necessary to give a name even to the cell phone provider. The phone was purchased from an individual, not a merchant. The time was purchased from a 3rd party seller of airtime, and only that party was given my name/info.

    I just got a call on this new number, which I have given to one person who lives with me, from Consumer Recovery Associates. Immediately after calling this cell phone, they called my landline. I really want to know how this is done. I only know the caller information because I googled their phone number. I have no debt.

  3. Also, it seems collectors can get your cell number if they have an address for you, and then you pay a bill (for example your cell phone bill) with a credit or debit card which of course has your address linked to it….?

  4. They have special departments where all they do is “skip trace” they find numbers.

    They have many tools available to them not available to the general public.

    If you have a phone, landline, cell etc they can find it.

    For example they will spend less time and resources finding an alterante phone numbe to track you down if you owe 50.00 versus 500, 5000 or even 50 000.00 etc.

  5. I recently got a newer cell number and I know I haven’t given it out to anyone other than family. I am getting a collector calling me on it. Does this still apply? I don’t see how it’s legal for them to hunt that information down without me giving it to them.

    • Jennifer,

      The chances are pretty good that what you probably did was to call the creditor or collector via a toll-free number and that discloses your telephone number to them. Otherwise, a collector probably called a family member and pretended they knew you and asked for the number.


  6. This article is very informative!!


    I can now waste less energy avoiding the bill collectors and more time to SHOP!!:):D

    A girl’s got to look good….who cares if you don’t have a job..just charge it on your CC and shred the bill when it arives.

    • tell them, politely, you are not the person they are looking for. ask for their information, name, company, phone number, manager, owner of company, as much information as you can get, tell them to remove your number and if the calls dont stop you may be able to sue them. keep detailed records of everything.


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