Notice from debt collector.

Debt Collector Phone Tactics

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.

Woman trying to manage her debt.

What Should I Do If a Debt Collector Is Harassing Me?

It is likely that, at some point in our lives, most of us will go through a period of financial hardship. The stress of not being able to pay credit card bills, mortgages, or other expenses can be a heavy burden to carry. On top of this, you may have debt collectors attempting to contact you. While it is legal for a debt collector to be persistent in attempting to collect a debt from you, harassment is not. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not tolerate debt collector harassment. 

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides consumers with federal protection from debt collector harassment. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from repeatedly calling you no matter what the time of day, threatening you, or exhibiting other kinds of behavior that is perceived as harassment. Because of federal protections granted to you, the consumer, under the FDCPA, you have recourse against debt collectors who run afoul of your right to be free from debt collector harassment. It is just a matter of seeking enforcement of this right.

A Debt Collector Is Harassing Me, Is There Anything I Can Do?

If you think that you are being harassed by a debt collector, document things immediately. Keep a record of all harassing behavior prohibited by the FDCPA, specifically all voicemails. 

Examples of possible harassing conduct:

  • Contacting you by telephone outside of the hours 8:00 am to 9:00 pm local time.
  • Communicating with you in any way after receiving written notice that the consumer wishes no further communication.
  • Communicating with you at your place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.
  • Contacting you after the debt collectors know you are represented by an attorney.
  • Communicating with you or pursuing collections after receipt of a written request for verification of a debt made within the 30-day validation period and before the debtor mails the requested verification
  • Debt collectors are prohibited from misrepresenting the debt or using deception to collect the debt, such as pretending to be an attorney or law enforcement officer.
  • Threatening to publish your name and information on a bad debt” list.
  • Trying to collect amounts not authorized by the contract or by law.
  • Threatening to arrest you or legal action, that is not allowed or not actually contemplated.
  • Using profane or abusive language when trying to collect the debt.
  • Not allowed to communicate with third parties and discuss the nature of the debts.
  • They are not allowed to contact you by mail or with any mailing outside of the name and mailing address and the name of the business can not indicate that they are in the debt collection business.  

This record of the harassing conduct will act as evidence should you need to pursue legal action against the debt collector.

The FDCPA is a strict liability law and you may be entitled to up to $1,000 plus attorney’s fees if a debt collector can be proven to have violated the FDCPA.  You have the option to sue the collection agency and stop the harassing behavior.

Florida Debt Collector Harassment Behavior

You do not have to, nor should you, put up with being harassed by a debt collector.  If you have experienced any of the prohibited conduct discussed above, The Law Office of William J. Roe is here to not only help you stop the harassing behavior but also to hold the collection agency responsible for its violation of state and federal consumer protection laws. Contact us today.