Out of the blue, I get a letter from IQ Data International stating I owe nearly $3000 in back rent to an apartment complex. Problem - I never lived there, never co-signed for anyone who had, never even heard of the place. I called IQDI and after bouncing around through 3-4 people, two cities and two states (Everett and Seattle, WA, then to somewhere in Arizona) I finally get hold of a 'rep' who informed me that after I was evicted from this complex, the debt was turned over to them for collection. After patiently repeating the phrase 'This is a case of identity theft' every time he tried to get me to 1) admit the debt or 2) say I was disputing the amount, he finally said "Call your former landlord" and get them to say I'd never lived there. I repeated they were never my landlord and asked if HE had the contact information, as it wasn't on their collection letter. He gave me a phone number/address and politely hung up. I called the number and it was a second, totally different complex. I did some web sleuthing and found the first complex, called them, got a letter from them stating they'd never heard of me, got a letter from the second complex stating they also had no record of me living there, called 'Manuel' back to let him know I had the letters, and had filed a police report for identity theft, and would he give me the name/address of whom I should send these to? He said I needed to fill out a 'form' and return it to them before they could do anything - it wouldn't do me any good to 'just send in the letters' as that wouldn't automatically 'clear the debt', and he promised he fax it right over. I waited until the next day -- called him again to confirm he had the right fax number. After he assured me he had sent the form 'well over two hours ago', I thanked him, hung up and called an attorney. It was worth the modest investment as I haven't heard a peep from IQ Data International since then and my credit reports remain unmolested.
Moral: If it isn't your debt, DENY DENY DENY- don't 'dispute' and thereby accidently validate the debt, if not the actual amount... and it helps to speak softly while wielding an attorney's business card.