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Dealing with unscrupulous debt collectors

Florida residents should know that it is illegal for bill collectors to harass, threaten or intimidate debtors. Those who are behind in paying bills and are receiving calls from debt collectors do have protective rights.

Knowing what constitutes illegal practices in debt collection is important. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector may not lie, use profanity or call after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m. In addition, a collection agent cannot call a debtor at work if they are informed that this is against workplace policy.

If an individual subject to abusive debt collection tactics knows the collection company's name, there are ways to handle the situation. They should start by sending a complaint in writing to the collection agent. Following this notification, the agent may only contact the debtor if the company intends to sue in court for the debt or to notify the debtor that no further communication will be forthcoming. A harassed individual may also contact the state's attorney general or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If a lawsuit is filed by the company to recover the debt, it is important for the debtor to show up at the court hearing. This may help avoid garnishment of wages or having a bank account frozen. Not showing up means an automatic win for the debt collection company.

An individual being harassed by debt collectors or facing debt that is insurmountable may benefit from a consultation with an attorney. The lawyer may examine the situation and advise whether Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be a viable option.

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