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Consumer protection from harassment by debt collectors

When Florida residents receive phone calls from debt collectors, they are often harassed. Harassment by debt collectors is prohibited by the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. The law defines both harassment by debt collectors as well as who is considered to be a debt collector.

Under the law, a debt collector is defined as someone who collects debts that are owed to another party. Employees of collection agencies, debt buyers or lawyers who collect debts for others would be considered debt collectors. The FDCPA does not include a party that is owed money and attempts to collect it directly.

Debt collectors are prohibited from making phone calls repeatedly with the intention of harassing, annoying or frightening someone from whom they are attempting to collect a debt. They are not allowed to use profane or abusive language to anyone who answers the phone. Someone who has been harassed by a debt collector has the right to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or to file a lawsuit against the debt collector under the FDCPA.

Other prohibited actions on the part of debt collectors include making threats, falsely claiming to be an attorney, publishing lists of people who have not paid their debts and making false claims about the amount of money owed or who they are. Refusing to say who they are when they call is also prohibited.

Debt collectors are required to stop their collection efforts immediately when someone files bankruptcy. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are bankruptcy options for individuals. Those chapters have different eligibility requirements that an attorney can outline to a client who is overwhelmed by financial obligations.

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