Collection Agencies Have to Play by the Rules
All too often, collection agencies are aggressive about how they go after monies owed to their clients. When a debt collector contacts you, they are required to treat you fairly and without harassment. Even though you have debt, it is your right to be treated in a non-aggressive manner. Collectors cannot intimidate or threaten you. Under federal law, you are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Federal Trade commission explain the law here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection
Where’s the Money?
Phone collections are a common way collection agencies go after the money. At the onset of the conversation, be sure to tell them you are aware of your rights. Under FDCPA, collection calls are prohibited before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. If you want the collector to stop contacting you, put your request in writing. After putting the collector on notice (in writing) that you do not want to be contacted after the initial contact, the collector has to stop contacting you. If within 30 days, you dispute the bill, the collector cannot contact you until you are provided proof of the debt.
Florida Statute 559.72 addresses prohibited collection practices. To read the Statute, visit: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599/0559/Sections/0559.55.html. If you have a question or think a collector is out of line, contact the State Attorney’s office at 1- 850- 414- 3300.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does not cover banks or lenders who lend the money in the beginning, nonetheless they cannot harass you either. For that, you are protected under federal laws governing unfair or deceptive business practices. If this happens to you, contact the Federal Trade Commission by calling: 1- 877- 382- 4357 or writing to: Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580 or by visiting: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm
Yes, we all have a moral obligation to pay our debt, but sometimes things happen that prevent us from being able to pay in a timely matter. While this is stressful in and of itself, unscrupulous collection practices get in the way of our best intentions to make good on our debt. In all matters of debt collection, protect yourself by knowing your rights.