How to Disappear From Your Creditors

TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
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SF Bay Area CA
How to Disappear Aka “going private” or “hiding”
Some forum members might find solace in these ideas. Hiding from debt collectors when you cannot take the pressure anymore, is akin to needing to escape and rehab when your life is spinning out of control.
Important. A disappearing act is much easier to carry off if the debtor lives alone.

Reasons you may want to “disappear.”

To remain anonymous to all creditors and potential claimants or plaintiffs.

To avoid or evade legal process service of a lawsuit or other adverse action.

Actions to Consider Taking to Become Non Locatable

1) Get a PO Box. This is a critical step. Inform all correspondents of your new address. On the USPS application, if asked for street address, you might list a previous nearby address (or you could list a faux address if so inclined). Why? Because a tenacious and persistent creditor might subpoena the post office requesting that info.

1a) Alternatively, you might sign up for “Earth Class Mail”. With this service, a subscriber can see his/her mail online. When the mail arrives, it’s opened and scanned. This can be a valuable service if affordable.

2) Tell your local post office (in writing or on a form) to no longer deliver mail to your street address.

3) In support of #2, either remove your mailbox, or securely fasten it shut and post a notice “Do not leave mail here” on or near your mail box. If you do remove the mailbox or receptacle, I recommend you post that notice somewhere near the front door or entryway.

4) Do not submit a forwarding address to USPS. That way, all mail delivered to your street address will be returned to sender. Again, be certain you notify all correspondents of your new PO Box mailing address.

5) If you have a garage, park your car inside and obscure any windows so no one can determine whether or not the car is present.

6) Keep some of your windows coverings closed enough to preclude visitors from peering inside your home.

Phones

7) Phones, both cell and land line. On the voicemail greeting, change it to the default greeting provided by the phone company/cell provider. Ensure that your name isn’t announced anywhere in that greeting. You can just choose to not answer any incoming calls from either creditor numbers or unrecognized numbers on your caller ID. Turn the ringer way down to barely audible and set the number of rings to only 2 or 3 before it goes to voicemail.

8) Consider buying two prepaid TracFones (no contract to lock you in). Use one phone for family and friends. Use the second phone only for calling banks, CC companies, and debt collectors. Never call a debt collector or bank or loan servicer from your family and friends TracPhone. When you get tired of incoming collection calls, simply turn that phone off to get a needed brain break.

9) Or consider a Google phone or other alternative. The benefits are 1) it’s free 2) includes voicemail 3) you hear no ring 4) you get a number in your area code. Provide this number to your creditors as the best and only way to contact you.

10) Don’t call creditors’ toll free numbers or unknown toll free numbers from a phone that you want to keep anonymous. Your phone #’s ID cannot be blocked on calls to toll free numbers. Also be aware that a creditor’s non toll free number often points to their toll free inbound number, thereby enabling them to see you number.

Other Non-Phone Actions

11) Be cautious of being outside or in your yard for an extended period of time during daylight or early evening hours.

12) Never answer the door for an unexpected visitor. Instead be stealthy to convey the impression no one is home.

13) Decide in advance on an alias and story. If asked if you are “Your Real Name”, respond with something like “Who?” i.e. acting as if you’ve never heard of the person. You could follow up with something like “Who are you looking for? I think you have the wrong address.” Then, if the visitor asks your identity, refuse to answer, or else give them your alias. If they ask about your status, you can say you’re a house guest, neighbor, house sitter, house cleaner, maintenance person, roommate, etc.doing something for the tenant (not the owner - you don’t know who the owner is). You’ll need another alias for the absent tenant

While this kind of discourse can be fun, if you’re concerned you may get flustered, simply refuse to answer any questions, and ask them to kindly vacate the premises and never return. That is the safest course. And, you are allowed to fib to, or make up stories to tell uninvited guests; after all you’re on your property!

14) Update your credit reports at the three major CRAs. Creditors use loads of online database information, like credit reports, to chase debtors. I recommend you order a credit report on yourself, and in that process, provide the new mailing address. This will feed the new contact info to the creditors and aid in the hiding process for you.

In Summary

While not foolproof the above actions can be very effective.

The above recommended tips will not keep one hidden from a creditor willing to spend a lot of time and $$ to hunt a debtor down, but it will help shield the debtor from 97% of the chatter and grief he/she may be experiencing now. A determined creditor, or other entity, might, if the $$ sum sought is large enough, pay for a skip tracing or other locating service, or even a private investigator, to locate the debtor.

As a bonus, here's the link to a story entitled "Things Debt Collectors Won't Say" from SmartMoney Magazine.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_113681.html
 
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TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
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SF Bay Area CA
More Tips

1) If you have a land line, ensure that it’s unlisted. Better yet, get a VOIP number from a service like Vonage or similar (lots of servicers available). When the debtor has a VOIP number, a locator cannot find the physical location with a reverse directory application.

2) If you see an unwanted call on your caller ID (you’re obviously close to the phone), pick up the receiver, then immediately hang up without saying anything. This will confuse the robo caller (auto dialer) at the automated call center, and prevent the caller from leaving a voicemail message. As I mentioned before, set your voicemail to pick up after only, say 2 rings. And ensure that your vm greeting isn’t in your voice, and doesn’t announce your name or any personal info. The caller is never certain if they’ve called the correct number; there is no confirmation.

3) Stay off social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Linked In, etc. All of these sites tend to be intrusive on one’s privacy, even though they might protest otherwise. And, if the site gets compromised, and/or an employee commits an error, the individual’s privacy will have been compromised. Despite a subsequent public apology and expression of remorse, the damage will have already been done.

4) If callers are never able to reach a live person, the calls will stop sooner. Why? Because the automated call center’s robo caller (auto dialer) software manager, who frequently culls the call list, and will remove your numbers from the list among others that are considered dead or inactive. As a result, the calls from that particular call center will likely end forever.

5) Calls from unknown numbers with a non-toll free area code, are not to be answered. That call may well be from a “spoofed” number. This practice has become much more prevalent recently. And do not call the number from a line, whose number you wish to keep anonymous. The spoofed number, when called, will point to the 800 toll free number, and the collection agency will be able to see your caller ID.

6) Credit Reports. Skip tracers and collection agents frequently use them to locate the physical address along with assets. When you order a credit report on yourself, ensure that the address you provide is your PO box.
 
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NegateEquity

LoanSafe Member
Jan 4, 2009
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Great list to reference tomeason.

One tactic that worked to get them to stop calling my work line when simply asking failed is when they asked if they could confirm my contact info, I said "Ssssuuure.

"For your work number, I have 957-752-4536." Which was exactly correct, but which I replied, "Oh no, thats not right, the number is 957-752-6532".

I haven't been called at work by them since.
 

TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
84
48
SF Bay Area CA
Great list to reference tomeason.

One tactic that worked to get them to stop calling my work line when simply asking failed is when they asked if they could confirm my contact info, I said "Ssssuuure.

"For your work number, I have 957-752-4536." Which was exactly correct, but which I replied, "Oh no, thats not right, the number is 957-752-6532".

I haven't been called at work by them since.
Thanks Negate. And I applaud your guile in updating your transposed work number Good thinking!
 

cahomeowner

LoanSafe Member
Oct 18, 2008
727
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I'm a creditor as well. I think these are some good strategies for avoiding contact with your credit however if you have a stable job, bank accounts, loans then a creditor will find you and pursue wage garnishment, asset or bank levies. it all depends on the creditor and how much effort they want to expend. if you APPEAR insolvent they may leave you alone.
 

TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
84
48
SF Bay Area CA
I'm a creditor as well. I think these are some good strategies for avoiding contact with your credit however if you have a stable job, bank accounts, loans then a creditor will find you and pursue wage garnishment, asset or bank levies. it all depends on the creditor and how much effort they want to expend. if you APPEAR insolvent they may leave you alone.
cahomeowner
Thanks for your post. As I mention in my articles(s), a creditor can always eventually locate a debtor if willing to spend enough money. A good private investigator, for example, can eventually find anyone.

And, as you state, unless the debt is large enough to justify the expense AND the debtor has attachable assets, many creditors will give up before having locating the debtor.

BTW, a creditor cannot just, as you say, "pursue wage garnishment, asset or bank levies." If the debtor is located, the creditor must file the suit and be successful in having it served on the debtor. When the debtor answers the complaint, the case can likely be dragged out for well over a year.

Only when, and if, the creditor wins the case and is awarded a judgment by the court, can that judgment creditor attempt to enforce the judgment. And settlement talks can take place anywhere along this process, including post judgment.
 
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cahomeowner

LoanSafe Member
Oct 18, 2008
727
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cahomeowner
Thanks for your post. As I mention in my articles(s), a creditor can always eventually locate a debtor if willing to spend enough money. A good private investigator, for example, can eventually find anyone. And, as you state, unless the debt is large enough to justify the expense AND the debtor has attachable assets, many creditors will give up before having locating the debtor. BTW, a creditor cannot just, as you say, "pursue wage garnishment, asset or bank levies." If the debtor is located, the creditor must file the suit, then have it served on the debtor. When the debtor answers the complaint, the case can likely be dragged out for well over a year. Only when, and if, the creditor wins the case and is awarded a judgment by the court, can that judgment creditor attempt to enforce the judgment. And settlement talks can take place anywhere along this process, including post judgment.
yep I just wanted to make sure people don't fall into a false sense of security. each situation is different and each state has it's own laws in regards to judgment enforcement. some people can move from job to job or residence to residence while others may not be as nimble which case those folks would be easier to serve, easier to get a judgment on and easier to levy. thanks for the info keep up the great work!
 

maineiac

LoanSafe Member
Jul 18, 2012
10
0
0
Thanks for all the great info on disappearing! I'm naturally elusive and try to be invisible for the most part anyway, and don't want any info about me on the web, so routinely go to the "people finder' type sites and have them delete my info. For most of them it is a simple on line process, but I think a few of them require a written request. I've always had more than one email address, so just use one of my "junk" emails for the process - they send a confirmation request via email. I haven't done any of the written type, for one thing they ask for way too much info, but have had success removing myself and associated relatives from quite a few. Not sure if that helps in the long run, but it's an easy task. I'm not sure what resources creditors have at their disposal, but why make it any easier?
 

TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
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48
SF Bay Area CA
What about if they know where you work, which I assume they could easily find out?
Hi bostonmd

Thanks for your question.

If a creditor or other seeker, knows where you work, or can easily find you, then you've been located and, unfortunately the jig is up.
 

freedomwon

LoanSafe Member
Oct 30, 2010
2,794
23
38
California
Hi bostonmd

Thanks for your question.

If a creditor or other seeker, knows where you work, or can easily find you, then you've been located and, unfortunately the jig is up.
Although, depending on the phone system at work, you may be able to block incoming calls from their phone #. If AT&T is the provider of phone service, here's instructions on how to block the calls. This will work on any land line:

Pick up the receiver on your AT&T landline phone and listen for a dial tone. Press *60 and press #.
Wait for another dial tone.Dial the first number, including the area code, that you wish to block on your AT&T landline.

Press #. Listen for another dial tone, dial the second number that you wish to block then press #.
Repeat this step to block up to six numbers.


Hang up your phone. The phone numbers you entered are now blocked.
 
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TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
84
48
SF Bay Area CA
Hi freedomwon

Thanks for posting the useful info on blocking calls.

However, FYI, bostonmd didn't say he was being called at his office: he said the seeker knows where he works. Hence that seeker not not call: he/she can simply visit the physical location.
 

freedomwon

LoanSafe Member
Oct 30, 2010
2,794
23
38
California
Hi freedomwon

Thanks for posting the useful info on blocking calls.

However, FYI, bostonmd didn't say he was being called at his office: he said the seeker knows where he works. Hence that seeker not not call: he/she can simply visit the physical location.
Hi TomEason - My perception of what bostonmd posted involved a "what if" scenario. It was not indicated whether or not the creditor does or does not currently have information on where bostonmd works, nor did the post mention whether bostonmd has or has not received calls at the office, hence; my detailed info on blocking calls.

So perhaps our perception of bostonmd's post differs.
 

TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
84
48
SF Bay Area CA
Hi freedomwon

My impression, based on the screen name, is that he/she is an MD located somewhere close to Boston, whose place of work is a typcial doctors' office. However I'm probably mistaken, LOL.
 

walkin

LoanSafe Member
May 1, 2012
361
6
18
I don't know about y'all, but every office I have worked in has a PBX phone system, which restricts any kind of call blocking or any other tricks.Sure, the company might pay for a few lines from a Telco provider, but they split those lines up with their PBX systems, rendering all possible tricks available for that particular provider useless. If you have to dial 9 to get out, I think you're screwed.
 

TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
84
48
SF Bay Area CA
I don't know about y'all, but every office I have worked in has a PBX phone system, which restricts any kind of call blocking or any other tricks.Sure, the company might pay for a few lines from a Telco provider, but they split those lines up with their PBX systems, rendering all possible tricks available for that particular provider useless. If you have to dial 9 to get out, I think you're screwed.
FWIW, you make a good point about the PBX system. However if BostonMD is really a doctor, how hard could it be locate his/her office and simply drop in?
 

walkin

LoanSafe Member
May 1, 2012
361
6
18
FWIW, you make a good point about the PBX system. However if BostonMD is really a doctor, how hard could it be locate his/her office and simply drop in?
Lol. If they are a doctor, an M.D., their information is all over the internet! This is a fact. (Coming from a very reliable source that works in the medical ffield) you can't have credentials like that and be invisible...period. Sorry, was just responding to freedomwons theory, didmt read the back story.
 
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Sinking

LoanSafe Member
Aug 1, 2012
33
2
8
One thing to keep in mind ... if you refuse to answer the door, or claim to not know the person they're looking for, they can go to your next door neighbor's house and ask if they know who lives next door and/or what happened to the debtor. That's what happened to us when our creditor was attempting to serve us with a lawsuit and it was really embarrassing :(
 
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TomEason

LoanSafe Guide
Jun 18, 2009
12,390
84
48
SF Bay Area CA
One thing to keep in mind ... if you refuse to answer the door, or claim to not know the person they're looking for, they can go to your next door neighbor's house and ask if they know who lives next door and/or what happened to the debtor. That's what happened to us when our creditor was attempting to serve us with a lawsuit and it was really embarrassing :(
Notwithstanding your having been embarrassed, did you get served or not?
 
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