I-Team: Collection agency calls wrong woman

You're at work when the phone rings at your desk.

But instead of a co-worker or a client, it's a collections company.

Heather Bryant got calls at not just one, but two of her workplaces, with one of the calls going to her boss.

"I didn't know what to think, especially when they're calling my work line," she said. "Somebody was looking for me, that it was very urgent."

The problem? The debt collector had the wrong Heather Bryant.

"She said she had some important information to serve me with and to discuss, and she needed to verify my identity. But when we tried to verify my identity, she had my name and age correct, but nothing else," Bryant said.

So Bryant did some research online. She learned the woman was calling from a company called Genesee Valley Associates, located in Rochester, N.Y.

"The only reason I even figured out it was a collections agency is when I asked, 'Well, how did you get this number?'" Bryant said.

The NBC 10 I-Team wondered if other people got upsetting phone calls from GVA due to mistaken identity. It asked the Federal Trade Commission for any complaints for the past five years.

According to the FTC, 89 people filed complaints. Of the 89 people, 20 people said the company had the wrong person. In addition, 20 people also said they got inappropriate calls at work.

Paula Fleming said the Better Business Bureau has 26 complaints nationwide involving GVA, with 13 unresolved, earning the company a rating of "F".

"The debt collection agency provides a service to businesses. They're collecting. We support that. We want them to do it in an ethical manner," she said.

Fleming said GVC is not responding to all of its complaints, which has a direct effect on its rating.

Repeated calls from the NBC 10 I-Team to GVC were not returned.

Bryant worries other consumers could be getting the same calls she did.

"It was very, very unnerving," she said.

There are ways to protect yourself, whether or not you actually owe a debt.

According to the FTC, ask anyone who calls to send the information in writing, and never give out your personal information over the phone.

Calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. are illegal.

If you ask a collector not to call you at work, the law says they have to respect your request.