If you are being harassed by a debt collector or creditor, an Orlando debt harassment attorney at VG Law Group, LLP can help.
Back in 1978, Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) with the aim of protecting consumers from harassment over unpaid debts. This Act was passed after bankruptcy filing numbers spiked within that year after it came to light that debt collectors were using abusive, unfair, and deceptive debt collection practices. The Act limits the debt collector’s actions and behaviors they may or may not apply while collecting a debt from consumers. Furthermore, it gives consumers with debts the ability to seek monetary compensation or injunctive relief for illegal harassment.
Who Is Affected by the FDCPA?
Consumer debtors: This Act regulates and applies to household, family, and personal debts. It also includes retail financing, car payments, credit card accounts, mortgages, and medical care. Remember, debts related to business issues are not covered under the FDCPA.
Third-party debt collectors: The Act also applies to individuals or entities attempting to collect debt on behalf of their client.
Creditors who are collecting their debt: Creditors attempting to collect the debt owed are not subject to the FDCPA regulations. Although, this varies from one state to the next.
What Are FDCPA Guidelines?
Debtor Location Acquirement
Any debt collector looking to gather information from a third party regarding the location of a debtor must identify themselves, their intention, and their employer. They must remain discreet and may only contact these parties once to know the location of the debtors. They can only contact the third party if the information is later found to be missing or wrong. If the debtor hires an attorney, then all communication must be through the attorney.
Communication With the Consumer
Without the debtor’s consent, collectors may not contact said debtor regarding the debt at inconvenient times (as directed or specified by the statute). The collector may not contact the debtor if they have hired a lawyer or at their place of work when they know that such communications will negatively affect the debtor. Also, no third party may be contacted other than the debtor’s lawyer, except as mentioned in the first point.
If the debtor’s attorney or the debtor notifies the collector in writing that they are refusing to pay the debt and no longer want any further communications with them, it is illegal for the collector to contact the debtor further. Communication is acceptable if the collector is notifying the debtor that special action will or may be taken by the creditor/collector, or to advise the debtor that collection efforts are being terminated.
According to FDCPA, the collector may not oppress, harass, or abuse any person connected to debt collection. This includes:
- Using offensive or obscene language to communicate
- Threatening violence or criminal behaviors to harm the person
- Repeated contact with the debtor or third party to abuse, annoy, or harass them
- Publishing people’s names in a consumer list who have allegedly refused to pay the debt; a list can only be used if published to a reporting agency
Unfair and Misrepresentation Practices
A collector may not:
- Claim to be a lawyer
- Claim or imply to be a government official
- Falsely represent the character, status, or debt amount
- State or imply that the failure to pay the debt will lead to arrest or property confiscation
- Fail to disclose interactions with the debtor
- Use deception to collect or attempt to collect a debt
- Use false communication regarding debtor’s credit
- Threaten legal actions that are not intended
- Threaten impermissible legal action
- Threaten to deposit postdated checks
- Accept a postdated check of more than five days, unless the debtor is notified in writing that the check will be deposited within 3 to 10 days
- Collect charges, fees, interest, or expenses related to the initial debt; unless authorized by the original contract
- Use unconscionable or unfair means
- Imply the collection documents are not of legal nature
- Imply a consumer reporting agency employs them
- Create unnecessary charges for communication by hiding the true purpose of communication, including telegram fees
After the initial contact, the collector must send a written statement showing the amount of debt owed, lender name, and payment due date.
FDCPA Violation Liability
A debt collector is liable for damages if they fail to comply with the FDCPA provisions. The compensation amount the debtor will be awarded will revolve around communication frequency, non-compliance of the collector, debtor resources, the nature of non-compliance, the number of people negatively affected, and even the degree of intent with which the violations were executed. In other words, the design, way, and language used is going to be used to evaluate the amount of compensation you deserve. If violence was used, the claim or litigation may escalate to assault, which is a criminal offense.
With the help of a skilled, experienced, and professional Orlando debt harassment attorney, you can recover compensation in a debt collection harassment case.
Consumer Collection Practice Act in Florida
Intending to expand coverage for consumers, Florida passed its statute to complement the FDCPA, which is known as the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. Florida’s legislation covers a broad area compared to the federal legislation, which covers legislation to both the Creditor and Debt Collectors. The federal FDCPA is only applicable to debt collectors, making the law blind to creditors attempting to collect their debts from following certain protocols or engaging in certain behavior.
The FCCPA has very specific guidelines on the subject and the actions creditors and debt collectors may engage in while collecting the unpaid debt. Under Florida’s Act (the FCCPA), before the final ruling, both creditors and debt collectors may not:
- Threaten or use violence to enforce debt collection
- Imply or misrepresent themselves as law enforcement or a government official
- Threaten to garnish wages
- Threaten to or communicate with a debtor’s employer
- Use vulgar, obscene, or abusive language
- Contact third parties (with some exceptions)
- Harass the debtor or their family with frequent contact
- Communicate with the debtor at an inconvenient time
- Mail communications in public displaying information which may embarrass the debtor
If you believe that you are being harassed or a debt collector or creditor is violating FDCPA or FCCPA, you may be eligible to receive compensation. To know more about your case, contact VG Law Group, LLP, and an Orlando debt harassment attorney will see if they can help you. Call 1-833-HELP-365 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.