All debt collectors must comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.shtm). The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, dictates how debt collectors can act when collecting a debt from you. Below is a list of things debt collectors cannot do.
While most professional debt collectors do not participate in these practices, there are still a few companies who do conduct themselves in this manner.
First and foremost, make sure the debt is REAL and TRULY OWED. There are many scams at this time (many associated with payday type of loans) where a collector will call and threaten, be abusive (calling the consumer names and using profanity). These most likely are not real collection companies. While helping a potential client, I was conferenced in on a call and experienced first-hand the abusive behavior. Further research revealed a website and a phone number but NO address or license for the company. In fact, the Better Business Bureau had it listed as “out of business” due to the phone listing not being found and mail being returned. Additionally a Google search revealed several websites with numerous consumer complaints against the company.
Once you have established that the debt is yours, the debt collector cannot:
1. Ask you to pay more than you owe
2. Ask you to pay interest, fees, or expenses that are not allowed by law
3. Harass you – whether calling repeatedly/continuously, using obscene or abusive language, call before 8 am or after 9 pm, call during times which they knew or should have known are inconvenient, use or threaten to use violence if you don’t pay the debt, threaten action they cannot or will not take
4. Illegally inform a third party about your alleged debt
Unless you have expressly given permission, collectors are not allowed to inform anyone about your debt except your attorney, the creditor or creditor’s attorney, credit reporting agencies, your spouse or your parent (if you are a minor)
5. Repeatedly call a third party to get your location information
The collector can only contact a third party once unless it has reason to believe the information previously provided is false.
6 Contact you at work knowing your employer doesn’t approve
A collector is not allowed to contact you at work if you’ve let them know your employer doesn’t approve of these calls.
7. Fail to send a written debt validation notice
Within five days of the collector’s initial communication, it must send you a notice include the amount of the debt, name of the creditor, and notice of your right to dispute the debt within 30 days.
8 Ignore your written request for verification of the debt
A collector can’t continue to collect on a debt after you’ve made a written request to verify the debt as long as the request was made within 30 days of the collector’s written notice.
9. Continue collection efforts on disputed debt before providing verification to you
After receiving your written dispute, the collector must stop collecting on the debt until you have received verification.
10. Continue collection attempts after receiving a written cease and desist notice from you or your attorney
If you make a written request for the collector to cease and desist communication, they can only contact you one more time, via mail to let you know one of the following: that furtherefforts to collect the debt are terminated, that certain actions may be taken by the collector, or that the collector is definitely going to take certain actions.
If you are currently battling debt collectors, consult a legal professional for help. Florida Consumer Law Center,P.A. is here to help. Contact our office for a consultation today.