Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Did you know that Nasty Bill Collectors Might Owe YOU Money?

Have you ever had a bill collector call you repeatedly only to say some mean and nasty comments?  Have you ever had a bill collector call you at work and then attempt to make you feel like you were a deadbeat?  In this bad economy no one benefits more than collection agencies.
Collection agencies make a profit when they collect money from the consumer. However, the tactics that they use are at times abusive, sneaky, and downright dirty. Creditor abuse is not uncommon and is actually very real. How do you identify creditor abuse?
In Florida consumer rights are defined and outlined under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). Every state’s creditor abuse laws may vary. The following is a list of examples of what Florida considers to be creditor abuse:
1.      Receiving calls from your creditor after you have asked him or her not to call
2.      Receiving calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
3.      Receiving calls at your place of employment after you have asked the creditor not to call your place of employment
4.      Receiving threats from your creditor
5.      Having your creditor show up at your door to collect (in some situations)
6.      Creditors insisting that they can legally collect on debts that are very old (beyond the statute of limitations)
7.      Creditors using profanity or abusive language
8.      Creditors using or threatening violence
9.      Creditors calling after you have advised the creditor that you have an attorney and have provided them with that information
10.   Creditors threatening that you will be arrested (there is no such thing as debtor’s prison in the state of Florida)
What is considered “abusive/harassment” under Florida Law?
Courts consider a number of different factual situations to be harassment. Specifically, courts have stated that once an indebted person has been advised of the debt by the creditor and has explained to the creditor that the person cannot pay the debt for a specific reason, then any further contact could be considered harassment. This is determined on a case by case basis and the creditor may be liable for statutory damage.
Who must follow the collections laws in Florida?
In Florida, the law states that no person may engage in the prohibited collection practices. This generally means everyone attempting to collect on a debt must refrain from the prohibited collection practices.
The FCCPA prohibits the enforcement of a debt when the person knows that the debt is not actually legally owed. There are numerous other actions which may constitute creditor abuse as well. However, not all bill collectors follow the rules. When that occurs, under the FCCPA, a debtor may be able to recover up to $1,000 in damages from the debt collector or creditor, as well as attorney fees and more.
As a consumer you do not have to live through this abuse. You should seek the advice of a consumer rights or bankruptcy attorney to help you preserve your legal rights.  

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