What Are The Debt Collection Statutes?
As technology advances, businesses and their debt collectors have infinite avenues through which to recoup monies they believe are owed. Today, creditors are able to send billing statements by the hundreds and generate automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) calls or Robocalls by the thousands.
In response, federal and state legislatures have enacted statutes and regulations to level the playing field. These “consumer statutes” include the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and in Florida, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA).
As a result of increasing consumer litigation surrounding consumer statutes, the terms “debt collection attorney” or “debt collector attorney” have evolved into more than simply references to attorneys that collect debts or execute on judgments. The term now also refers to attorneys that sue debt collectors or defend debt collectors for violations of consumer protection laws. As a result, The term “debt collection defense” has also evolved. While “debt collection defense” was primarily used to describe the defense of consumers in debt collection matters, now “debt collection defense” or “consumer defense” are terms often used to in connection with lawyers who defend companies in consumer matters.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restrictions apply to ANY Individual or Company!
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How Can We Help?
Because of the expanding body of law, consumers and companies alike should self-direct the question: Do I need a debt collection attorney? The response should be an astounding “yes.” A debt collector or company that regularly bills for monies owed, should have an experienced debt collection attorney to draft or review policies and procedures and to ensure compliance with the strict restrictions prescribed by the consumer statutes referenced above.
Consumers, on the other hand, should understand their rights and, where appropriate hire a debt collection attorney to sue the debt collector or other commercial entity who violates the law.
For additional information or if you think you may have a case, contact the consumer litigation team at Zebersky Payne LLP at (954) 933-5083.
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What Is The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was enacted to prevent abusive calls, phone harassment, excessive text messages, and unsolicited faxes. The TCPA applies to individuals, corporations, banks, loan servicers, credit card companies, department stores, and of course debt collectors that use phone calls, faxes, or text messages to collect debts, solicit, advertise, market, or provide information.
What Is The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal act that is the foundation of debt collection legislation in the United States. Debt collector attorneys, by any definition, must have a thorough knowledge of the FDCPA’s restrictions and regulations. The FDCPA regulates how, when, why, and from whom a debt collector may attempt to collect a debt. The act regulates primarily third-party debt collectors as opposed to original creditors and is a staple tool in the arsenal of debt collection attorneys.
What Is The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA)?
The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) is Florida’s consumer protection statute that not only includes, but also adds to the FDCPA. The most important distinction and the one that is of the most concern to Florida businesses is that the FCCPA applies to, not only debt collectors but all individuals and organizations that engage in the collection of debts. The FCCPA is extremely “pro-consumer,” with legal standards and case precedent strongly favoring the consumer. Again, the restrictions in the FCCPA apply to all businesses who send statements, invoices or bills; make phone calls, send emails or texts pertaining to collections of monies.
What Should Consumers Be Aware of and Companies Refrain from?
Including, without limitation, placing frequent phone calls to consumers’ cell or home phones; placing calls to consumers’ families, friends or coworkers; placing numerous daily calls; placing calls that include robot voices or pre-recorded messages; using auto-dialers or Robo-callers to make numerous calls and placing calls without proper caller ID.
Debt Collection Harassment:
Including, without limitation, calling a debtor repeatedly without proper consent; using false statements to coerce payment of a debt; using threatening remarks in the collection of a debt; sending bills, statements, or correspondence to a debtor’s family, friends, or coworkers; and using language or images that create the false impression that the government is associated with the debt collection.
Collections of Illegitimate or Unsubstantiated Debts:
This includes, but is not limited to charging late fees that were not agreed upon or disclosed; billing for amounts that should or would be covered by medical insurance or workers’ compensation coverage; charging “collections fees” other than legally applicable interest; charging or collecting unauthorized taxes; and collecting other amounts, fees, or penalties that were not expressly disclosed, agreed to, or permitted by law.
Communicating with Represented Parties:
This includes, but is not limited to sending any communication relating to a debt while a consumer is represented by an attorney. Importantly this prohibition is not limited to “bills” in the traditional sense but applies to any communication pertaining to a debt.