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How to deal with debt collection agencies

Florida residents who have been contacted by a threatening debt collection agency about a bill they believe they do not owe, or one that is much more than they owe, might be wondering what they should do. While many people think paying off the bill will solve the problem, there are other solutions.

Debt collection agencies obtain information about consumer debts pertaining to their utilities, medical expenses and credit cards, for example, by purchasing them at discount from the companies where the debts originated. Then, to make a profit, the collection agencies try to solicit the full payment from the debtor.

However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received more than 219,200 complaints in 2015 regarding debt collection companies, and roughly 40 percent of those complaints were about collection agencies trying to get people to pay debts they did not owe. As a result, the CFPB secured $79 million into a civil penalty fund and $360 million in relief for that just that year.

Therefore, whenever a collection agency contacts someone for a debt, and the person believes the debt is erroneous, then that person has the right to request the agency's contact information, information about the debt and a written statement that says the consumer has 30 days to request a validation or verification of the debt. Further, it is important to note that collection agencies that break the law could be forced to pay a $1,000 fine to the debtor.

People who are deep in debt might wish to speak with an experienced attorney about the benefits of filing for bankruptcy. The two principal forms of consumer bankruptcy are Chapter 13 and Chapter 7, and an attorney can outline the requirements associated with each.

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