Life is unpredictable and our best-prepared plans can fall apart. An unexpected accident at work, an unexpected child, or illness can unravel plan your plan and can cause financial hardship. Credit card bills, mortgages, and other debts that you planned to pay off may now be difficult or impossible. If these debts go unpaid, the companies will reach out to you in an attempt to collect the debt – on average, a company will attempt to contact you six times. Fielding calls from a creditor is stressful and causes anxiety for many. When debt collectors get involved, stress and anxiety can go through the roof.
Across the U.S., the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) offers federal protection to consumers from debt collector harassment. In Florida, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) also limits the tactics that debt collectors and creditors may use when contacting you. Despite these federal and state protections, debt collectors often run afoul of the law when attempting to recover a debt.
1. Harassing Phone Calls
Although doing so is usually a violation of the FDCPA and FCCPA, debt collectors may call you at odd hours of the night to cause stress and anxiety to try to get you to pay them to end the harassment. Debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at any unusual time or place known or which should be known to inconvenient to the consumer. A debt collector should not communicate with the consumer outside of 8:00 am to 9:00 pm local time. If you have received calls outside of that time period, save the voicemail and record the time of the call. Much of this conduct is illegal and you should contact our office today if you have experienced this.
2. Calling Neighbors, Family, and Friends
Debt collectors may call people you know in an attempt to put pressure on you to pay. Similarly, debt collectors may hope that by making these people aware of your financial stress, they may offer to help pay the debt – this is most common when contacting family. Although contacting your neighbors, family, and friends is not illegal in itself, the debt collectors conduct during their conversations is highly regulated and should be thoroughly reviewed by a Florida Consumer Law attorney. A debt collector must identify themselves, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and only if requested, identify his employer. A debt collector may not state the consumer owes any debt. May not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information. Debt collector may not communicate by post card and not use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents of any communication effected by the mail or telegram that indicates the debt collector is in the debt collection business or that the communication relates to the collection of a debt.
3. False or Misleading Representations
Debt Collectors may threaten you with arrest. Debt collection is a civil matter rather than criminal, and thus failure to pay a creditor is not a criminal offense and you can not be arrested or go to jail. Although, there are exceptions when the government is involved. It is illegal for a debt collector to make false or misleading representations – if you have been threatened by a debt collector, please contact our office today for a free consultation.
Right to End Communications
Under the FDCPA, you have the right to end communications with a debt collector. If you inform a debt collector to stop contacting you, the debt collector must stop – failure to stop is a violation of the FDCPA unless one of the few exceptions is met. If you have informed them in writing, keep a copy of the letter and log of all subsequent attempts by the debt collector to contact you. There are exceptions but once you notify them, if they continue to communicate that is a violation and we can help.
Florida Consumer Law Lawyer Can Help
You should not be harassed by debt collectors. For many Americans dealing with debt collectors, on top of the underlying financial hardships can be overwhelming. If you feel that you are being harassed by a creditor or a debt collector in Florida, please contact our offices today.