Service of Wrong Numbers: Identity Theft or Sloppy Work by an Auto Finance Company

October 10th, 2013

Categories: Identity Theft, Sloppy, Wrong Numbers

Wrong number

The idea for this post was a friend’s, CLC, who wrote the following:

I’ve received mis-sent faxes with people’s confidential information from attorneys.

In addition I’ve been hounded by a car financing giant for months first because a loan applicant didn’t supply full information and then later because she defaulted on her first payment.  I must’ve told 6 people that I was not the person in question and to find the correct number.  I later switched to threatening if it turned out the applicant had supplied my number deliberately and they had not bothered to ascertain that. 

identify theftWe were afraid that it might have been a case of identity theft.  I began demanding to know whether the applicant used some of my other information and whether she lived in the same state.  I questioned how thoroughly they vet people to whom they give loans if they couldn’t even get the correct phone number. Given she missed her first payment the implication was, not very well!   

Once the missed payment went from the application department to the collections department, I got three calls from three different agents within about a half-hour.  I had demanded that my number be taken out of the system before applications sent the case to collections. I think I really shook them up when I talked about possible legal action and going up the management chain.  The calls abruptly stopped.   

Yes, people make mistakes when they copy numbers or they misread someone’s bad handwriting.  But in many cases I’ve had it happen multiple times from the same company.   

I’m honest and call to report a mis-sent fax and then I shred the information. But what if it gets into the wrong hands?  And when the error has been pointed out, when does the interaction between the sender and incorrect recipient become harassment?

To CLC’s questions I add: Has this kind of thing happened to you? How did you make it disappear? Isn’t the sloppy research done by the car finance company reminiscent of the non job the mortgage companies did that almost brought this and other countries down on their financial knees?

auto loan



7 Responses to “Service of Wrong Numbers: Identity Theft or Sloppy Work by an Auto Finance Company”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    Sloppy Work is found EVERYWHERE!

    The cause is that the “youth” of today, and adults in the “tech” WORLD of today, are way TOO busy checking for tweets and emails, about every 2-3/4 minutes by my actual count (!) to be bothered doing their JOBS! Honest! Check it out!!!!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You may be right. Certainly nobody listened to CLC from the beginning when she pointed out to the very first caller that he/she had the wrong number–nobody bothered to find the correct one that’s for sure or to delete hers so colleagues wouldn’t bother her.

  3. JBS Said:

    Nothing like this has ever happened to me, but we get an average of three calls a day from various charitable agencies, often asking for clothing or household goods, but sometimes for money. Putting your name on the “Do Not Call” list as I did ages ago doesn’t help, since charities can call. I donate to the ones that I believe in, but never as a result of a phone call. And when I do donate, I’m still likely to get a call from that agency within three or four days. I’ve considered unplugging our phone at least when we sleep (and as retirees we don’t get up at 8 a.m.), but I’m afraid I’d miss an emergency call from a family member, so haven’t done that. This is a subject for another column.

  4. Lucrezia Said:

    I had a bad experience with a credit card company years ago, and have no idea of how it happened. The problem was resolved after much personal inconvenience. Said company vanished a couple of years later. Incompetence and sloppy management may have brought it down.

    Being paranoid over privacy matters, I made sure my name, address and account number, if any, was cut into tiny pieces when thrown out well before ID theft became a public menace. The shredder is now a huge timesaver.

    The Readers Digest ran a story about a woman who inadvertently left mail in the car, with name and address visible. The wrong person chanced by and she and family were mercilessly hounded for years, before authorities caught up with him. All this in the days before technology.

    Back in the “old days” before advanced prying, these were just a few of many signs pointing to invasion of privacy followed (or led, perhaps?) by criminal activity. We can’t say we weren’t warned.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    When my wallet was stolen two years ago the police had me speak with a part of the department that handles identify theft. I got off the phone fearing that someone would try to buy a house using my identity. I was lucky: The person seemed only to want my cash.

    I, too, am paranoid on the subject. People spend countless hours trying to scratch and dig themselves out of these messes. No wonder CLC was on alert in this instance. The finance company staff sure wasn’t.

  6. Simon Carr Said:

    One the saddest consequences of machine generated errors that I know about came during the early days of computerization.

    There were two male Foreign Service officers with the last name, “Smith,” and a first name like “John.” One was competent; the other was not. The machine, possibly due to human error, but maybe not, got the two mixed up.

    After years of hard, competent work and bad efficiency reports, despite endless, unrequited efforts to find why the machine was damning him, the “good” Smith was fired and shortly thereafter committed suicide.

    The Department of State investigated, discovered what the machine had done, and negotiated a “retirement” with the “bad” Smith who, as far as I know, is happily living out his undeservedly comfortable old age.

    I believe an important side effect of the glories of the computer revolution is that while one’s manual dexterity becomes rapidly enhanced, one’s ability to reason and understand right from wrong deteriorates in inverse proportion.

    I also believe that now mankind has no hope of ever being able to escape from the clutches of these infernal machines, and that, as a consequence, we might just as well sit back in front of our flat screens in our Titanic deck chairs and enjoy the ride.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I remember reading about this in Time Magazine years and years ago. I never forgot it. The man who died could not get another job and had a family to support.

    In addition to computer glitches, have we also lost the ability to listen? The Good Mr. Smith’s boss might have tried to do something for example. That story chills on the re-reading as when I first heard about it.

    I don’t know if our reason is as affected by technology as much as is our focus. There are so many things pulling at us at once. I am working on four things as I respond to your comment, and in between, I answered the phone. At times like this I keep my fingers crossed that I don’t fall off a mental ledge. I am so glad I don’t perform surgery or fold parachutes.

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