Are you a company who collects debts for yourself or others?
Know your rights and responsibilities!
In 1977, the federal government passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to provide debtors with legal protection from abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices.
It also granted certain protections to While it applies primarily to third-party debt collectors, the law is broad in scope and dangerous for debt collection companies if not adhered to.
The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using certain types of abusive, deceptive and misleading debt harassment tactics.
The FCCPA supplements the protections provided by the FDCPA and may provide greater protection to Florida residents, as well as provide business owners with ethical and legal ways to collect on money owed them.
Watch: What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Here’s what the FDCPA does:
- Eliminates deceptive and abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts.
- Promotes fair debt collection.
- Provides consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information to ensure it’s accurate.
- Creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business.
- Defines the rights of consumers involved with debt collectors
- Sets out penalties and remedies when debt collectors violate the law.
The FDCPA makes it illegal for creditors to:
- Attempt to collect more debt than what is actually owed.
- Harass you, intimidate you, lie to you or use obscene language.
- Threaten you with lawsuits, arrests, or violence.
- Threaten to garnish wages
- Use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to harass you.
Debt collectors can be liable for up to $1,000, plus any actual damages that you have incurred as a result of their conduct.
They can also be required to pay your legal fees and court costs.
Stop the debt harassment phone calls
Adding to the many consumer protections offered by updated collection laws is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibit debt collectors from harassing consumer debtors in certain situations.
Under the TCPA, debt collectors can NOT:
- Call you early in the morning (before 8 a.m.) or late at night (after 9 p.m.)
- Call you at work.
- Make anonymous calls or use false names.
- Call your friends, neighbors and co-workers.
- Use automated telephone dialing systems to call your cell phone, unless express permission is given.
- Prohibits any call made using automated telephone equipment or an artificial or prerecorded voice to an emergency line (e.g., “911”), a hospital emergency number, a physician’s office, a hospital/health care facility/elderly room, a cellular telephone, or any service for which the recipient is charged for the call.
Consumers can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Florida Attorney General’s office or Better Business Bureau to alert them of these forms of debt collector harassment.
Consumers can also take legal action and receive substantial compensation for any harm, annoyance, or harassment the debt collector, company, or telemarketer has caused.
Violations of the TCPA may result in damages ranging from $500 all the way up to $1,500 for each violation or a recovery of actual monetary losses (whichever is greater) and injured parties may also seek an injunction.
What does this mean for businesses?
In Florida, the FCCPA has the potential to adversely impact businesses that are attempting to collect on debts, statements, or invoices because it expands federal protections that shield consumers.
That’s why all businesses should strive to be in compliance with these laws.
The FCCPA is even more expensive than the FDCPA and with a legal standard strongly favoring the consumer.
How to stop a debt collector from calling you?
According to the FTC, the federal consumer protection agency that enforces federal debt collection laws, there are ways to stop collectors from contacting you.
Here’s what the FTC advises:
“If a collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them at least once to see if you can resolve the matter – even if you don’t think you owe the debt, can’t repay it immediately or think that the collector is contacting you by mistake.
If you decide after contacting the debt collector that you don’t want the collector to contact you again, tell the collector – in writing – to stop contacting you.
Here’s how to do that:
Make a copy of your letter. Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be able to document what the collector received.
Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again, with two exceptions: a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact or to let you know that they or the creditor intend to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit.
Sending such a letter to a debt collector you owe money to does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can sue you to collect the debt.”
If you believe you are being harassed by debt collectors or want to protect your business, it’s wise to hire an experienced debt collection attorney who not only knows the nuances of debt collection law and telephone harassment laws but someone who can also guide you through the process.
Zebersky Payne Shaw Lewenz, LLP’s FDCPA consumer protection attorneys are well versed in the regulations, limitations, and protections of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.
The firm has handled individual and class action cases involving: improper disclosures, improper identifications, debt collection harassment, debt harassment, billing during bankruptcy or while represented, and other FCCPA, FDCPA, and TCPA violations.
To speak to a consumer protection lawyer about how to stop the debt harassment, call (800) 634-1808 to schedule your consultation.