The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(FDCPA) is a federal statute established to ensure that debt collection play by the rules and avoid harassment. This act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
and private litigants. While the FDCPA
is a federal statute, most states also have their own debt collection laws. Debt collection harassment
cases or complaints can be brought under either state or federal laws, or both.
The Florida state debt collection laws provide additional protections not found in the federal law.
The Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act 559.552 states as follows: Relationship of state and federal law.--Nothing in this part shall be construed to limit or restrict the continued applicability of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to consumer collection practices in this state. This part is in addition to the requirements and regulations of the federal act. In the event of any inconsistency between any provision of this part and any provision of the federal act, the provision which is more protective of the consumer or debtor shall prevail.
Per Florida debt collection laws, a consumer collection agency shall not operate in the state without registering with the Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FFDCA). To continue to collect debts, all consumer collection agencies must register and renew their registration every year.
A "debt collector" is someone who regularly tries to collect debts owed to others. A debt collector may contact you if you are behind in your payments to a creditor on a personal, family or household debt, or if an error has been made in your account.
A debt collector may contact you in person, or by mail, email, telephone, telegram or fax. However, a collector may not communicate with you or your family with such frequency as can reasonably be considered harassing. A debt collector may not contact you at work if the collector knows your employer does not disapprove, nor may a collector contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 am. or after 9 pm., unless you agree to it.
A debt collector is required to send you a written notice within five days after you are first contacted, telling you the amount of money you owe. The notice must also specify the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money and what action you should take if you believe the debt is not valid.
You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. Debt collectors should also stop calling you if you verbally request that the calls stop.
If you do not believe the debt is valid, you may write to the collection agency within 30 days after you are first contacted, saying you do not owe the money. The agency then may not contact you further unless you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill.
A debt collector may not harass or abuse anyone. For instance, a collector may not use threats of violence against the person, property or reputation; use obscene or profane language; advertise the debt; or repeatedly or continuously make telephone calls with the intent to harass or abuse the recipient. In addition, debt collectors are required to accurately disclose their identities.
A debt collector also may not use false statements, such as falsely implying that they are attorneys, that you have committed a crime, or that they operate or work for a credit bureau or misrepresenting the amount of your debt, the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt, or indicating that papers sent to you are legal forms when they are not. Debt collectors may not tell you that you will be arrested if you do not pay; and they cannot threaten to take legal action or seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages – unless they intend to do so and have a legal right to do so.
If a debt collector has violated any of these provisions when dealing with you, you may be able to take legal action against them. The experienced debt collection attorneys at Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center ®
can help you to determine whether federal or state laws were violated in your case, and how to proceed to stop the harassment and obtain justice.