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Friday, April 1, 2011


My last name is not exactly a common one like Smith or Jones. However, it seems to be a topic of conversation whenever I meet someone for the first time.

“Oh are you related to so and so?”


They aren’t even suggesting anyone famous. In fact, there are no famous people with my last name… other than me.  :)

Actually, there is a stadium about forty five minutes from Pittsburgh that bears my last name. That’s all I’m giving you.

It’s just that because my last name is so ‘uncommon’, one would think that anyone with that last name had to be related to me. But they aren’t. It has become such a reflexive response that whenever I hear the “Are you related to…” question, I say no before they even say the name.

However, some people won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. They happen to be debt collectors and constables.

About ten years ago, I was unmarried and living in a townhouse. My only roommate was my cat. Yes, my then girlfriend spent a lot of time and ended up moving in after we got engaged but for the most part, she still maintained a residence at her parents’ house and had her maiden name.

Yet, for some reason I began getting phone calls from credit card companies looking to find her, using my last name, because she owed a substantial amount of money and had become delinquent.

I informed the CSR that they had the wrong person and whenever they told me the address, which was in Latrobe, I told them, again, “You have the wrong person.” After about a week, the phone calls stopped.

Then, in 2004, after I had bought my first home and moved in with my fiancĂ©e, the phone calls started again, this time, from a state constable. I informed him that my wife will have that name but not until November and she’s never maintained an address in Latrobe. I even went one step further and did an Internet search and found the address and phone number of the right person and gave it to the constable. He thanked me for doing his job and promised not to bother us again with this matter.

Flash forward to yesterday and my wife received a phone call from her work. The receptionist said that she received a call for my wife from a company called First Source. I immediately knew what this was about. Unfortunately, I read a lot of Consumerist and went into assault mode, thinking that this was some weird phantom debt but quickly remembered the whole debacle from ten years ago.

I called up the number and, of course, had a CSR with a heavy foreign accent answer the phone. As soon as he rattled off the Latrobe address I stopped him right there and explained the whole situation. I asked him to remove whatever phone number they called from their database. Hopefully, this fixes the problem. Of course, the damage is done. My wife’s employer gets this wonderful perception that their employee is a dead beat and even her father gets a phone call from the same collection agency.

These people suck at searches as much as they do speaking English.

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