With the economic collapse, the issue of creditor harassment has truly come to the forefront. Many consumers were forced to fall behind on their bills due to job loss and general economic hardship. In attempting to collect on debts, creditors oftentimes engage in abusive collection practices which violate the law. You, as the consumer, do have important rights, and here at Torrens Law Group, P.A., we defend those rights vigorously and will pursue abusive creditors and debt collectors on a contingency-fee basis if you have a valid claim.
Some of the most common complaints we here from potential clients are that debt collectors are attempting to collect on a debt that is already paid, debt collectors are calling and making nasty threats, and debt collectors are calling family and friends and disclosing confidential information to them. No need to put up with this conduct, as you have important rights.
As a resident of Florida, the two most important laws protecting you from abusive debt collection practices are the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”) and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The FCCPA is basically the state law version of the federal FDCPA.
While the FCCPA and the FDCPA are very similar in their protections, the most important distinction between the two is that the state law, the FCCPA, applies to original creditors as well as debt collectors, whereas the FDCPA only applies to debt collectors. What’s the difference? Well, let’s say you took out a Home Depot credit card and then defaulted and Home Depot was trying to collect. In that case, Home Depot is the original creditor and would not be bound by the federal law, but would be bound by the FCCPA, the Florida consumer protection law. However, once Home Depot hired a third-party debt collector (including a debt collection law firm), then the federal FDCPA would apply.
Here are some of the most important protections these laws provide, keeping in mind that the FDCPA only applies to debt collectors while the FCCPA also applies to original creditors:
1. A creditor may not attempt to collect on a debt that it is not owed. For example, let’s say you made your payment and they send you a letter threatening to sue you. That’s illegal.
2. A creditor may only contact you between the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., local time.
3. If a creditor knows how to contact you directly, they are not permitted to contact third parties such as your employer, your family, or your friends. If they do happen to contact such a third party, they are certainly prohibited from identifying themselves as a debt collector and are prohibited from telling the third party that you owe a debt. A creditor is only permitted to contact third parties to verify your contact information and may only contact them once.
4. If it is a debt collector and you send them a cease and desist letter demanding that they stop contacting you, they are not permitted to contact you further unless it is for verification of the debt or they are notifying you of potential legal action.
5. If you receive a letter from a debt collector providing you with thirty (30) days to dispute the validity of the debt, you can send the debt collector a letter disputing the debt and the debt collector may not resume any further debt collection activity until the debt is properly validated, such as by sending you a copy of the original Promissory Note or contract.
6. It is a violation of the FCCPA for a creditor to report a negative item on your credit when you did not owe the money.
7. A creditor may not engage in harassing behavior, such as making threats to you or calling you too many times during a day.
These are just a few of the rights that you have as a Florida consumer against abusive debt collection practices. If you feel that your rights have been violated by an abusive creditor or debt collector, please contact our office at 813-260-4883 or complete the online contact form to speak with an attorney about whether you have a valid claim against the creditor or debt collector.