Debt Collector Abuse
Receiving a call or a letter from a debt collector is never a pleasant experience. While it is sometimes necessary to remind a person about an outstanding balance, owing a debt does not give a creditor or debt collector the right to abuse, harass, or engage in unlawful conduct in order to force payment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act are designed to protect individuals and families in Florida from misconduct by people seeking to collect debts incurred for family, household, or personal purposes. When violated, these laws allow for recovery of money damages, along with costs and attorney fees. They are among our most important consumer protection laws and are some of the most frequently violated.
Here are some of the ways in which a person seeking to collect a debt can violate the law:
- Threatening to disclose information about a disputed debt to a third party, such a credit reporting bureau, without also stating that the disputed nature of the debt will also be reported.
- Making threats and harassing statements.
- Communicating with an employer before obtaining a judgment.
- Making false threats such as failure to pay will result in arrest.
- Disclosing information affecting your reputation to a third party, such as a friend or neighbor, where that person has no legitimate business need for the information or the information is false.
- Using profane, vulgar, or abusive language.
- Use of a communication that simulates in any manner legal or judicial process or that gives the appearance of being authorized, issued, or approved by a government, governmental agency, or attorney at law, when it is not.
- Telephone calls between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in your time zone without your prior consent.
- Communication with you if the person knows that you are represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, you attorney’s name and address, unless your attorney fails to respond within 30 days to a communication from the person, unless your attorney consents to a direct communication with the debtor, or you initiate the communication.
- Demand from a debt collector that you dispute the debt in writing.
- Failure of a debt collector to include notice of a consumer’s right to disputes the debt and to demand verification and validation of the debt.
If you suspect that you have been mistreated by someone seeking to collect a debt, or if you feel that they are not following the law, contact me to discuss your options. Just because you refuse, or are unable, to pay a debt does not mean you deserve to have your rights violated and be abused.