Debt Collectors: How The Law Protects You From Their Wrath
Most consumers in today’s economy, save the lucky few, know what it’s like to fall behind on a bill or two. It happens to people in every walk of life; a trip to the hospital, an unexpected auto repair or accident, or a layoff is all that stands between a huge number of Americans and a sea of overdue bills. And those of us who have fallen behind on payments in the past know what comes with those overdue bills…phone calls, written notices, voicemails, and now even text messages from debt collectors reminding you that you don’t have the money to pay your debts.Sometimes these tactics work. For the odd individual who overlooks his bills for one reason or another, a reminder notice that his bill is overdue is all that it takes for the checkbook to come out and the debt to be cleared. But for the vast majority of people receiving debt correspondence, these tactics can become an unending weight of pressure to pay what has become un-payable. The notices stack up, the collection calls become incessant, and the reminders of your overdue payments begin to show up everywhere you go. Sometimes debt collectors send those notices and make those calls, just to apply pressure to the debtor. This pressure can make a person feel isolated and without recourse; other times it can lead to rash decisions like using money for necessities to pay bills or filing premature bankruptcy. In either of those cases, the collector wins. These tactics, and many others, have led the federal government, as well as many state governments to implement laws that protect consumers from the predatory tactics of debt collectors. Now when I describe these tactics as predatory, I am not implying that these companies do not have the right to collect what is owed to them. American businesses have every right to collect what is owed, but now the government says they have to act decently while they do. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects all US citizens from the abuse and harassment of debt collectors. Some examples of behaviors that are prohibited by the FDCPA are: (1) use of profanity; (2) use of obscene or abusive language; (3) any abusive or harassing behavior; and (4) using false, deceptive, or otherwise misleading representations. The Act also protects debtors from receiving collection calls during certain hours of the day. These are just a few of the many protections that consumers have under the federal law. It’s important that people know their rights, so that they can recognize when a debt collector is trying to force their hand by employing illegal techniques. In Florida, we are lucky when it comes to protection from debt collection. The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act was passed by the Florida Legislature to offer additional protection to individuals who are behind on their bills. The act lays out a myriad of violations that are commonplace in the collection industry. And what’s not surprising is how often the collection agencies break these rules. As a generation of individuals who are living through a very difficult economic period, it’s necessary for us to remain dedicated to freeing ourselves from debt through hard work and determination. But the back-handed, negative, pressure-producing tactics of debt collection agencies can leave people feeling like there is no hope. That is what the FDCPA and FCCPA are intended to protect against. As lawyers representing individuals facing often crippling medical bills resulting from car accidents, we at the Dolman Law Group have seen how debt collectors can push clients into depression. So we’ve decided to take a stand. Part of our promise to our clients is to protect them from the harassment of bill collectors and we intend to stand by that promise by holding creditors to the law. Call us today for a free consultation. Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is your Clearwater creditor harassment attorney.
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