Annie's Mailbox: Is it illegal for creditors to call looking for relatives?

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Dear Annie: In these tough economic times, my husband and I have managed to stay ahead of things by working hard and being careful with our money.

We know we are both fortunate to have jobs. Some family members are not so lucky, and have lost their homes.

The appalling thing is that bill collectors have started calling us looking for these relatives.

I have no intention of helping them. Each time they call and ask for the extended family member, I first ask their name and that of the company they’re calling from, and I write this down along with the date and time. I then tell them there is no one here by that name and never has been and ask that they please not call again.

But these snakes still call.

I now have a list of these repeat offenders. My question is, to what agency should I report this harassment? And maybe you could let the rest of the world know that they have recourse against these reprehensible tactics.

I understand they are owed money, but that is between them and the individuals. It has nothing to do with me.

— Tired of the Harassment

Dear Tired: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says a debt collector may contact a relative or friend, but only to learn the location of the debtor.

They are permitted to do this only once, unless the collector has reason to believe you have new information or that previous information was false.

It can be a form of harassment if a debt collector contacts you repeatedly, or is abusive or threatening. You should be able to stop contact by writing directly to the debt collector.

You also can lodge a complaint with the FCC. For information on how to do that, go to fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html or call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).

Dear Annie: Is there a scientific or medical term for a person who has an obsession with another person’s terminal illness and death, or is this person just weird?

When someone is near the end of life, my friend “Lou” wants to be in attendance as often as possible until the person dies. Lou appears to almost experience euphoria when the person dies, but shows little or no emotion after.

I have witnessed Lou’s behavior more than once and wonder whether this is some uncontrollable compulsion or just plain nosiness.

— Keeping My Distance

Dear Keeping: Paging Dr. Kevorkian. An entire cottage industry has developed around “death voyeurism,” or watching people die. Those who are sexually aroused by the process may have some form of paraphilia.

We agree it is downright creepy, but generally harmless.

Dear Annie: The letter from “Not Over the Hill Yet” was ridiculous. She said her teenage grandson asked if he could be nude around his friends because they all did it.

My husband and I have two teenage sons and, between us, seven brothers. Not one of these guys has ever felt it normal or natural in any setting to be naked with a group of their buddies.

Tell the kid to do us all a favor and keep his pants on. Oh, and by the way, what is the mother of “Jay” doing when her son and his friends are hanging out naked in her home?

Are we the only ones who see this as a problem? If there were a bunch of naked girls in front of one of the fathers, the other parents would be horrified. She obviously has a screw loose.

— Not Nude in Glendora, Calif.

Dear Not Nude: You make a good point about naked girls, and a lot of readers agree with you about Jay’s mother. We hope those grandparents will stick to their guns.

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