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Creditor Harassment

Creditor Harassment in Florida

Debt Harassment Laws

There are three main laws that offer consumers protection from debt harassment and remedies for violations of these statutes.

Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA): This federal act sets limitations on behaviors debt collectors may and may not engage in while attempting to collect debt from consumers. Additionally, it provides consumers who have been illegally harassed by debt collectors the right to sue for monetary and injunctive relief.

 - Also, under the FDCPA, surviving relatives are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased family member, except in limited instances. Surviving family members are protected as third parties from abusive or deceptive collection practices under the FDCPA, and are afforded the same rights and remedies which would be available if the deceased debtor were still alive. 

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): This federal act entitles consumers who receive robocalls from collectors on their cell phones to compensation—up to $1,500 per call.


Types of Debt Collector Harassment, Violations, and Scams

Harassment by debt collectors attempting to collect consumer debts is a violation of federal law. The following are examples of common scams debt collectors use to harass consumers, as well as legal regulations they often fail to follow. Typically, debt collectors commit at least one violation of the law during the first phone call, and then commit many violations during the course of the collection process.

1. Harassment: While there is no precise definition for specific “harassing conduct,” there is a non-exhaustive list of examples in federal legislation governing debt harassment.

Common examples include numerous, daily phone calls to alleged debtors, their family, and friends; calls on back-to-back days; repeated calls with no messages; hang-ups; using social media networks such as Facebook; the use of robo-dialers; lies or misleading comments; speaking in a belittling manner; and embarrassing, argumentative, and rude conduct.

  • Collecting Debts Not Owed: No debt collector, including banks, mortgage companies, collection agencies, or other financial institutions may attempt to collect more than is owed. This includes late fees when the debtor has paid on time, penalties, higher interest rates, attorney costs, or any other miscellaneous costs that are not part of the principal or interest of the debt.
  • Threats: Debt collectors may not create a false sense of urgency through the use of threats in attempts to collect a debt. This can include suggesting the following: legal action will be taken; an arrest will be made; criminal prosecution will be pursued; the debtor could face potential jail time; threats of repossession of the alleged debtor’s property, including cars, homes, and furniture; garnishment of wages; or threats to ruin credit.
  • Calls at Work: Any calls to the debtor’s place of employment are a violation of the law. These calls can include speaking with a co-worker or employer, calling the debtor’s cell phone at work, leaving messages regarding the debt, or calling the debtor’s direct line.
  • Contacting Third Parties: Debt collectors may not speak to any party about a debt without the express permission of the alleged debtor, including family members, neighbors, friends, employers, or co-workers. Third-party contact is only permissible if it is in an attempt to locate the debtor.
  • Written Notice: Debt collectors must send the debtor a written notice stating the amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and notification that the debtor has 30 days dispute the debt, in writing.
  • Proof of Debts: If the collector receives notice that a consumer has disputed a debt, they have 30 days to obtain written verification and validation of the amount of debt and to whom it is owed. Until the collector mails this to the debtor, along with supporting documentation, they may not contact the debtor or attempt to collect the debt.
  • Cease and Desist: Any and all communication with the debtor must immediately stop once a debt collector receives a “cease and desist” letter. There is no specific language required, only a directive that the debtor is no longer to be contacted.
  • No “Mini-Miranda”: In the initial communication, the debt collector must identify themselves as such to the debtor.
  • Contact after Attorney Representation: Once a bill collector is notified that the debtor is represented by an attorney, all communication with the debtor must stop. Any communications about the debt are required to be discussed with the debtor’s attorney.

"Do I need an Attorney?"

Many of our clients attempted to stop harassing creditors or bill collectors on their own and were unsuccessful until they contacted our firm for help. Unfortunately, when a consumer tries to stop a harassing creditor without the assistance of an attorney, they may face several setbacks.

Some debt collectors will not be intimidated by consumers proceeding without an attorney and may suspect that these individuals have little to no understanding of their legal rights. Furthermore, there are several steps that must be taken to stop a harassing creditor and, without the guidance of an experienced attorney, debtors can miss vital steps in this process.

Attempting to stop harassing creditors on your own can prove to be a difficult task, especially for those whose lives have already been disrupted by the harassment. When you hire the Tancredo Law Firm, the debt collector must contact us — not you — with regard to your debt, which may provide some relief from the harassment.

If you elect to hire our debt harassment attorney, he can help you take the initial steps necessary to stop the harassment by:

  • Sending a letter demanding communication with the debtor stop
  • Requesting validation and calculations of the debt
  • Sending a letter to contest the debt

  If the harassment does not cease, our attorney may choose to file a lawsuit. In preparing your claim, our attorney can:

  • Review records that you’ve kept (i.e. logs of phone calls, texts, voicemails, etc.)
  • Subpoena phone records, if necessary
  • Dispatch private investigators to find information about the collector and their history
  • Review current cases in which your collector may be involved

"What Compensation Can I Recover?"

Statutory Damages: Under the FDCPA, debt collectors who violate the law’s provisions will be liable to the harassed consumer for up to $1,000 in damages. The amount awarded will hinge on the frequency, duration, and veracity of the harassment. Under the TCPA, consumers receiving robo-calls on their cell phones may be awarded up to $1,500 per phone call.

Actual Damages: Additional damage compensation may include out-of-pocket costs or compensation for emotional distress and damage such as stress related injuries, which may include:

  • Angina
  • Chest constrictions
  • Shock
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Embarrassment
  • Humiliation
  • Pain and suffering

Attorney Fees: If your suit prevails, the FDCPA permits the recovery of attorneys’ fees.

Our attorney is dedicated to stopping banks and other debt collectors from engaging in unlawful and unacceptable behavior. He has established a practice area designed to help people that are being harassed by debt and bill collectors. If you have been harassed, or are unsure whether your debt collector’s actions qualify as harassment, we may be able to help. We have a successful track record of recovering damages for our clients. With the assistance of our attorney, you may have an opportunity to return to a harassment-free life and recover the compensation to which you are entitled.

Let us get started

The Tancredo Law Firm has assisted thousands of individuals with Creditor Harassment over the past 20 years.

Our experienced attorney and staff are standing by to help with your case. Feel free to reach out so we can begin working to find the best plan for you.

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