If you have experienced creditor harassment, you may have legal recourse—in other words, you can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for any losses or harm you’ve sustained. Some consumers who sue debt collectors obtain more than enough to cover what they originally owed.
To protect yourself from abusive debt collectors and potentially take them to court, you first need to understand what they can and cannot do. Many clients ask us how many phone calls a collector can make before they are officially harassing you, but, unfortunately, the answer is not quite so simple.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) outlines certain tactics that debt collectors are not permitted to employ against consumers.
These tactics include:
- Calling at inappropriate hours (specifically after 9pm or before 8am)
- Calling you at work if they’ve been told they cannot call your work
- Discussing your debt with someone other than you or your spouse
- Using obscene language
- Threatening you with violence
- Repeatedly calling you with the intent to harass you
- Lying about who they are, what you owe, or what will happen if you don’t pay
- Taking or threatening to take your property illegally
Phone calls can qualify as harassment, but they will need to meet one or more of the above requirements.
The debt collectors must stop contacting you entirely if you send them a letter telling them to stop. However, this may trigger a lawsuit, so be sure to speak with an attorney about your situation before taking action.
Be aware, however, of two important distinctions regarding the FDCPA. Firstly, the act only covers consumer debts, not business debts. Secondly, the act governs only the behavior of debt collectors (i.e. entities that bought your debt from your original creditor).
The FDCPA is a federal protection against harassment, abusive tactics, and deception. However, it is not the only law that protects you. The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) protects consumers against certain behaviors committed by either debt collectors or original creditors.
If you live in Florida, you are protected from the actions listed by the FDCPA as well as the following behaviors listed under the FCCPA:
- Discussing your debt with your employer (unless a court issued a judgment against you in favor of the creditor/collector)
- Reporting or threatening to report negative information to a credit reporting agency about a debt that you have disputed (without mentioning that you have disputed it)
- Sending forms or other communications that look like official government documents or attorney letters
- Sending mail with embarrassing language on the envelope or postcard (i.e. readily visible before opening the mail)
- Enforcing (or threatening to enforce) an illegitimate debt against you (e.g. time-barred debt)
If you believe a debt collector or creditor has violated your rights under the FCCPA or FDCPA, your first step will be to get in touch with an attorney. You may be able to sue the collector or creditor, but they will likely have legal representation as well, and you will need professional assistance to properly hold them accountable for their unacceptable actions.
Let Our Team Review Your Case
At Buchalter & Pelphrey, our attorneys will not tolerate the violation of your rights. We are here to advocate for you both in and out of the courtroom. Whether you need to end contact altogether, take a creditor or collector to court, file bankruptcy, or employ any other debt-related strategy, we can guide you through the process with care, efficiency, and urgency.
Contact us onlineor call to get started on your case right away.