When do collection efforts become abusive?
If you are struggling with debt, the last people you likely want to speak with are debt collectors. Unfortunately, you may not be able to avoid these interactions unless and until you take steps to resolve debt issues.
However, you should be aware that even though they can seem relentless and aggressive, debt collection agents are restricted in their behaviors by federal laws. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has established rules that work to prevent abusive debt collection efforts and practices.
Broadly speaking, the FDCPA defines and limits authorized means of collecting debt. For instance, under this act, collection agents must:
- Identify themselves to consumers
- Specify the debt in question
- Send a written notice to consumers that includes the name of the creditor
- Inform consumers of their options to dispute the debt
While they may do or say things you do not like, debt collection agents must not:
- Threaten or intimidate consumers
- Lie or mislead consumers about the penalties of non-payment
- Misrepresent themselves as a lawyer
- Contact consumers at times or places known to be inconvenient
- Intentionally annoy or harass consumers
Should an agent violate these or any other rules established by federal or state laws, he or she can and should be reported.
The FDCPA is quite extensive and thorough so it can be very difficult to know if and when you have fallen victim to unauthorized actions. However, discussing your situation with a lawyer familiar with debt and bankruptcy laws in Florida can be a step toward protecting yourself.
It should also be noted that even if you have been the victim of creditor harassment, the debt in question will not away. Therefore, it can also be wise to speak with a lawyer in an effort to tackle your debt and seek financial relief.