If you’ve ever fallen behind on your payments or bills and experienced debt collection harassment, then you know how unhelpful it can be in getting a situation resolved. The last thing you want to deal with when you are already stressed to breaking point over how you’re going to make your next payment is having abuse hurled at you from a debt collector! So, today, we’re going to take a look at what you can do when you’re being harassed by debt collection agents.
What You Can Do About Debt Collection Harassment in Florida
The Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The first thing that you should familiarize yourself with if you are facing debt collection harassment, is the Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This act is designed to outline what is considered acceptable and unacceptable debt collection practices. Familiarizing yourself with this act gives you the knowledge you need to fight unfair collections efforts or debt collection harassment. In some cases when debt collection agencies are abusing their authority, all it takes is for you to mention your understanding of the Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to deter them. Why? Because they know that they are breaking the law when they harass you but they bank on the fact that you don’t know the law, so something as simple as citing the FFDCPA and that you are aware that they are breaking the law can be enough to put an end to debt collection harassment.
It can be hard to do, but when you have this conversation with a harassing debt collector, keep a level head. Acknowledge that you are aware that they are breaking the law and that you will be filing a complaint with the FTC and if the harassment continues, you will pursue legal action.
Send a Letter
By law sending a cease communications letter via registered mail requesting that the debt collection company cease all contact with you means that the company may no longer contact you in regards to the debt in question. The only exceptions to this no-contact rule are communication to acknowledge the cease contact request and contact made to notify you of specific actions, for example, filing a lawsuit against you.
Before sending your letter requesting that a harassing debt collection agency cease contact, be sure to make a copy of the letter and keep it in a safe place. It’s also very important to send the original letter to the debt collection agency via registered mail so that you can confirm when the letter was received. This information will become important if the debt collector continues their harassment and you wind up taking them to court.
When a debt collector violates the Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act you should always file a complaint against that company. This complaint isn’t just a means of speaking out against unscrupulous companies, but it’s also a means of record keeping in case you should wind up taking the debt collection agency to court.
There are three main places where you can report violations of the FFDCPA.
- Your state attorney general’s office
- The Federal Trade Commission
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
To ensure that all of your bases are covered, we recommend filing complaints with each of these organizations and keeping a copy of your complaints for your own record. The more thorough records you are able to keep, the more comprehensive your legal case will be if you do wind up taking the debt collector to court.
Contact an Attorney
If a debt collector continues to harass you despite the efforts to make them stop, you should contact an attorney who takes on consumer law cases. Let your attorney know that you are being unfairly harassed by a debt collector despite taking all of the above steps to stop this harassment. Make an appointment to speak with the attorney one on one about your case and be sure to take all of your documentation with you when you go to your appointment. The more detailed your records and the more you can provide your attorney in the way of evidence, the stronger your case against the debt collection agency will be.
It’s important to know that while you can sue a debt collection agency for harassment in both state and federal court, you must file your case within one year of the date that the collector violated the FFDCPA law. When suing a debt collector for unfair practices, you can pursue damages in the way of lost wages and medical bills if you can prove them, but even if you cannot prove these types of losses, you may still be entitled to damages of up to $1,000 as well as reimbursement of your attorney fees and court costs. It’s also important to know that even if you win a case against a debt collector for harassment, you are still not excused from any debt that you owe, the debt is still valid.
Need Help Fighting Debt Collection Harassment?
If you’re in the St. Pete area and need a reputable attorney to help to fight off your harassing debt collectors, Weidner Law can help. All you need to do is pick up the phone and give us a call at 727-954-8752 and we’ll get right on your case so that you no longer have to endure unethical debt collection policies.