Predatory debt collectors are becoming a bit of a sore subject these days. As personal loan shops and pay-as-you-go schemes gain popularity, many people are finding themselves in bed with some very unsavory characters. It is definitely wrong to take out a loan and refuse to pay off the debt, but that does not mean debt collectors can come after you whenever and however they choose. The State of Florida has its own laws on top of the current federal laws to protect you from these financial predators.
Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA)
No matter the debt, collectors have to follow the rules. They are not allowed to:
- Act as a law enforcement official in person or over the phone in an attempt to get you to pay the debt;
- Threaten you with any kind of force or violence;
- Communicate with your employer regarding your debt unless a judgment has been filed against you and it includes garnished wages;
- Contact third parties regarding your debt;
- Harass your family regarding your debt;
- Communicate directly with you after they are notified that you are being represented by an attorney.
This list is not all-inclusive.
In Florida, these rules do not just apply to debt collectors that purchase debt from the original creditor. These rules apply to the original creditor as well.
Punishments for Collectors If They Violate the FCCPA
Debt collectors face real repercussions if they violate the rights afforded you under the FCCPA. These punishments include:
- Awarding you damages;
- Awarding you potential punitive damages;
- They have to pay your legal fees;
You do not have to allow these people and institutions to stress you out or negatively affect your life at all.
So, what should you do if you feel that your rights are being violated?
If a Debt Collector Is Improperly Communicating with You
First, stop engaging with them. No good can come from it. Instead, keep track of every single call, piece of physical mail, email, text message, knock on the door, or anything else the collector is doing even you are not sure if it is a violation of the FCCPA. Then, you should contact an attorney that handles FDCPA and FCCPA violations. Really, the best way to get the collector to leave you alone is to have an attorney notify them that you are being represented. The creditor is not allowed to contact you after this notification has been received. If they do, it is most likely a violation and you should tell your attorney.
Being in debt does not make you a bad person. It happens to most people. You do not have to persecuted by debt collectors. You also do not have to be rich to get an attorney to protect you. The South Florida Debt Relief and Education Foundation was created to protect low-income families from predatory debt collectors and educate those families on how to stay debt-free. If you think you may be a victim of predatory debt collection practices, contact the South Florida Debt Relief and Education Foundation today for a free consultation.