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Florida bankruptcy: Consumers asked for input on debt collection

Debt collectors have a notoriously bad reputation, as any consumer in Florida who has gotten behind on a debt can attest. There are rules in place to keep them from needlessly harassing people into bankruptcy, but the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that provides those protections was passed in 1977. A plethora of complaints about debt collection practices, technological advances and in-house collections have necessitated a fresh look at the rules set up in the Act.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is soliciting input from a variety of sources, including consumers. Anyone wishing to submit a comment regarding changes to the current rules regarding the collection of debts may do so. The bureau is also asking for comments and suggestions from debt collection agencies and consumer advocacy groups to ensure any rule changes are fair to both sides.

With the increase in cell phone use, many debt collectors no longer limit consumer contact to an individual's home number, which used to be a land line. A consumer can be anywhere and receive numerous debt collection calls. One debt collection company was recently accused of texting consumers without permission and not providing essential disclosures in those texts.

The Act also does not currently apply to lenders that handle collections in-house. This could change as well. Debt collection agencies are not the only ones that harass consumers.

Florida consumers searching for debt relief options often experience harassment from debt collectors. The Act provides some protection, but unless a consumer can pay off the debt, the only way to eliminate both the debt and the harassment may be to file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can provide many consumers with a clean slate, a quiet phone and a chance at a brighter financial future.

Source: elpasoinc.com, Debt collection rules may change, Ann Carrns, Dec. 1, 2013

 

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