Under the federal and state Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts, creditors or debt collectors cannot engage in abusive or harassing behavior in order to collect debts. If you experience this treatment from a creditor, don’t give in to the bullying. Instead, there are people you can call for help protecting your rights.
Call An Attorney
If you are ever harassed in any way by a creditor, you are entitled to seek monetary damages for their unlawful behavior. As mandated by federal law, in a successful civil action, you are entitled to collect up to $1,000 in a lawsuit for any statutory violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). While Florida law similarly provides for $1,000.00 for the violation in a successful Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FFDCPA) lawsuit, some Florida courts have held that this means $1,000.00 per violation, which could result in an award of many thousands of dollars against a creditor who has made several illegal phone calls. These courts want to send a clear message to creditors that their action will not be tolerated.
Make sure you document all conversations before approaching your debt attorney so he or she can give you the best possible advice.
Here are some common examples of collection violations:
- Threats to take actions, which are not legally available to the debt collector, such as suing or even threatening to sue on a time-barred debt.
- Requiring you to defend a lawsuit in a county where you do not reside or did not sign a contract.
- Contact or calls with neighbors or family which disclose that you have a debt.
- Failing to provide you with certain statutory notices as required by the FDCPA.
- A junk debt buyer or third party collection agency engaging in consumer debt collection activity in the State of Florida without the requisite registration per Florida Statute § 559.553.
The attorney can tell you whether the behavior constitutes harassment or abuse and can advise you as to your next steps so that the abusive behavior stops.
Call the Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is the government department that oversees debt collectors and ensures that the FDCPA is being followed appropriately. It relies on consumer reports to let it know when any business–including debt collection businesses–is not following trade laws.
Contacting the FTC is a major step in fighting back against rogue debt collectors. Be prepared to submit documentation of exactly what happened. The FTC will investigate the claim you are making against the debt collector. If that claim is substantiated, the debt collector may have to pay hefty fines.