When To Contact A FDCPA Attorney?

Understanding the Fair Debt Collections Act

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that forms the foundation of consumer collection legislation in the United States. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA regulates how, when, why, and from whom a debt collector may attempt to collect

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA regulates how, when, why, and from whom a debt collector may attempt to collect debt.

While it applies primarily to third-party debt collectors, the law is broad in scope and dangerous for debt collection agency if not adhered to.

If violated, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides for:

  • Potential for statutory damages up to One-Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) plus any actual damages the collector may cause;
  • Potential for an award of attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

Contact a FDCPA Attorney Today!

Zebersky Payne, LLP Trial Lawyers 110 Tower, 110 Southeast 6th St. Ste.2150 Ft. Lauderdale 33301

Florida has its own version of the FDCPA which adds further protections from debt harassment or improper debt collection techniques. 

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How Does This Apply To Me?

The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) is Florida’s Act that encompasses and adds to the FDCPA. The Florida Consumer Collection Practices act APPLIES TO ALL INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES THAT TRY TO COLLECT A DEBT. In Florida, this act should be of the utmost concern to all businesses that are attempting to collect on debts, statements, or invoices to broaden the scope of protection for consumers—essentially, all businesses should strive to be in compliance with these laws. The FCCPA is even more expansive than the FDCPA and, with a legal standard strongly favoring the consumer; it too offers consumer plaintiffs

The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act provides for:

  • Potential for statutory damages up to One-Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) plus any actual damages the collector may cause;
  • Potential for an award of attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

All organizations and individuals who collect debts must have systems and protections enacted and enforced in order to avoid liability under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act (FCCPA).

What is the FCPPA &FDCPA?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

How the FCCPA & FDCPA Debt Harassment Protections Apply To Consumer Debts?

Importantly, FCCPA and FDCPA debt harassment protections apply to “consumer debts,” which are debts that arise from primarily for personal, family, or household activities. Individuals and organizations collecting such consumer debts must not engage in:

Individuals and organizations collecting such consumer debts must not engage in:

Debt Harassment: 

While there is no hardline definition for “harassing conduct,” there is a constantly expanding list of conduct including frequent phone calls to consumers, their families or friends; multiple calls per day or calls on back-to-back days; repeated calls with no messages; repeated calls with robotic or vague messages; hang-ups; the use of auto-dialers or robo-dialers; lies or misleading comments; speaking in a patronizing manner; and embarrassing, aggressive, and rude conduct.

Certain actions, however, are considered debt collection harassment or are otherwise prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, for example:

Attempting to Collect Debts that are Not Owed:

Debt collectors, including banks, mortgage companies, collection agencies, or other financial institutions or creditors may not attempt to collect amounts exceeding the amounts to which they are owed. This includes late fees when the consumer has paid on time, penalties, higher interest rates, attorney costs, certain forced placed insurance or any other miscellaneous costs that are not part of the principal or interest of the debt.

Threats:

A Debt collection agency or company, as well as original creditors, must avoid the use of threats in attempts to collect a debt. The law disallows threats of legal action; threats of arrest or criminal prosecution; threats of repossession of property, or threats to ruin credit. Unless the collector has the intention and legal ability to carry out these threats, it is illegal to engage in these behaviors.

Calls at Work:

Calls to the consumer’s workplace constitute debt collection harassment and violate the FCCPA and FDCPA. This includes speaking with a co-worker or employer, calling the consumer’s cell phone at work, leaving messages regarding the debt, or calling the consumer’s direct line.

Contacting Others:

Debt collectors should not contact other individual or organization about the debt of a consumer without the express consent of that consumer. This includes friends, employers or co-workers, and certain family members.

Debt Collection Letters or Bills: 

Debt collectors must, within five (5) days of their initial correspondence or collection attempt with a consumer, send that consumer written notice stating the following:

  • the amount of the debt;
  • the creditor to whom the debt is allegedly owed; and
  • a notification that the consumer has thirty (30) days dispute the debt, in writing, or the debt will be assumed valid by the debt collector.

If the collector receives written notice of a debt dispute, the collector has thirty (30) days to obtain written verification and validation of the amount of debt and to whom it is owed. Until the collector sends validation information to the consumer, along with supporting documents or information, the collector may not contact the consumer or attempt to collect the debt.

Cease and Desist:

Debt collectors must immediately halt all communication with the consumer once the collector receives a “cease and desist” letter. There is no specific language required, only a directive that the consumer is no longer to be contacted.

Consumer Protection “Mini-Miranda”:

In the initial communication, the debt collector must identify themselves as such to the consumer.

Contact after FDCPA Attorney Representation:

Once any company is notified that a consumer is represented by a debt collection attorney; all communication with that consumer must stop. Any communications about the debt should be discussed with the debt collection attorney. This issue is commonly encountered in the context of bankruptcy filings or personal injury lawsuits; hospitals or physician groups must not send consumers statements or bills if they have knowledge of a bankruptcy filing, personal injury lawsuit, or general representation pertaining to a debt.

Zebersky Payne’s FDCPA/ FCCPA, Debt collection attorneys are well versed in the regulations, limitations, and protections of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. The firm has handled individual and class action cases involving: improper disclosures, improper identifications, debt collection harassment, debt harassment, billing during bankruptcy or while represented, and other FCCPA and FDCPA violations.

Contact Us Today!

Zebersky Payne, LLP Trial Lawyers 110 Tower, 110 Southeast 6th St. Ste.2150 Ft. Lauderdale 33301