Florida bankruptcy attorney
One of the most difficult aspects of financial problems is dealing with creditors. Even if creditors stay within their legal boundaries, debt collection efforts against you are disruptive and embarrassing. Working with a Florida bankruptcy attorney stops creditor harassment and helps you get a fresh financial start.
If you have creditors calling you daily and making your life miserable with their debt collection efforts, what can you do?
Laws Protect Consumers from Aggressive Debt Collection Efforts
The first thing you should do when faced with debt collection efforts is to determine if creditors are within their rights with what they are doing. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act limits what bill collectors can do when it comes to getting you to pay. If they go beyond their legal limits, you can take legal action, even if the debt is legitimate.
What Can Creditors Not Do?
Demand you pay more than you owe on a debt.
Creditors must be honest about how much they’re owed and consumers have a right to ask for documentation in writing concerning a debt. Additionally, creditors cannot add extra fees and interest outside of the terms of the original loan agreement. This is especially important when third-party collection agencies enter the picture.
Place continuous or repeated calls.
Creditors are free to contact you by phone between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm based on your local time zone. Additionally, they cannot call at times that are obviously inconvenient, including weekends or holidays.
Furthermore, they must stop calling you if you ask them to stop calling. Whether or not you’ve spoken to an attorney or begun bankruptcy proceedings, creditors must stop calling you if you ask them to stop in writing or over the phone.
Use abusive language or threats.
If you feel that a creditor is being too aggressive, is using profane or obscene language, or has threatened you in some way, you have a right to take legal action. Empty threats aren’t allowed, so they cannot threaten to garnish your wages, take property, or do anything else unless they are permitted to and/or intend to do so.
Also note, creditors making violent threats could be breaking laws unrelated to debt collection, too. If you believe you’re being harassed by a creditor, tell your Florida bankruptcy attorney.
Illegally share information about your debt with a third party.
Creditors cannot share information about your debt with other people or entities unless you’ve granted them permission to do so. This means if they contact your employer or anyone else to track you down, they cannot share information regarding their reason for trying to contact you. They must stop contacting you at work if you tell them your employer does not approve.
Furthermore, they are allowed to contact a third-party only one time in an attempt to track you down.
Exceptions to this include:
- Your attorney
- Your creditor’s attorney
- Credit reporting agencies
- Your spouse
- Your parent (if you’re a minor)
Fail to give you validation of a debt in writing.
Debt collectors must provide written notice of a debt within five days of their initial communication with you. The notice must include:
- Debt amount
- Name of the original creditor
- Notice of your right to dispute the debt
They must also stop debt collection efforts after you make a written request for verification of the debt until they’ve legally verified the debt.
Continue collection efforts after receiving a cease communication notice.
Once a debt collector receives a cease communication notice, they can only legally contact you one more time to notify you that they:
- Are terminating debt collection efforts
- May or definitely intend to take certain debt collection actions’
Working with a Florida Bankruptcy Attorney Helps You Deal with Debt Collectors
If you believe a creditor or debt collector has violated any of their restrictions or you want to stop debt collection efforts once and for all, we can help. Contact the Law Office of Robert M. Geller at 813-254-5696 to schedule a consultation.