The Collection Harassment division of Morgan & Morgan is dedicated to handling the civil litigation of cases involving consumer harassment.
We have established a practice area designed to help people that are being harassed by debt and bill collectors. If you have experienced, or think you have experienced, a violation of the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), fill out our free case evaluation form.
The Top 10 collector violations are elaborated on below. Harassing conduct by debt collectors attempting to collect consumer debts is a violation of the law in Florida. The following examples are a small sample of the many schemes debt collectors use to harass consumers. Typically debt collectors commit at least one violation of the law during the first phone call, and then commit many violations during the course of the collection process.
1. Harassment – There is no actual definition of “harassing conduct” by a debt collector, but we know it when we see it! Debt collectors abuse consumers in many ways. Common examples of harassing conduct include numerous daily phone calls to alleged debtors, their family and friends, calling on back to back days, repeated calls with no messages, hang-ups, using social media networks such as Facebook and the use of “robo-dialers.” Lies, misleading comments, speaking in a belittling manner, embarrassing, argumentative and rude conduct are examples of harassing conduct.
2. Collecting debts not owed- No debt collector, including banks, mortgage companies, collection agencies or other financial institutions can attempt to collect one penny more than what is actually owed. This includes any “fees”, such as late fees when alleged debtor is not late, penalties, higher interest rates, attorney fees, costs or any miscellaneous fees. Obviously if an alleged debtor doesn’t owe the money it is a violation of the law for a collector to try and force the alleged debtor to pay the money. A favorite scheme of debt collectors is to try and “guilt trip” family members into paying family debts they don’t owe.
3. Threats – Creating a “false sense of urgency” or suggesting something bad will happen such as arrest, criminal prosecution, jail, repossession of all the alleged debtors property (cars, homes, furniture) garnishing wages, threatening to file lawsuits or ruining credit. Unless a collector has the legal ability and intention to do what they say, it is illegal for them to mention it.
4. Calls at work – Phone calls to the workplace can and do cause many serious problems, which is why debt collectors make the calls. Any calls to the workplace, especially after a collector is told not to call, such as speaking to or leaving messages with a receptionist, calling the cell phone while alleged debtor is at work or calling alleged debtors direct line, is a violation.
5. Contacting 3rd Parties - Collectors may not speak to any party about a debt without the express permission of the alleged debtor, including the spouse or any other family member, neighbors, friends, co-workers, or references. Any outside contact is a violation of the law.
6. Written Notice – Debt collectors must send a written notice stating the amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and a statement that the debtor has 30 days to in writing dispute the debt. Upon receiving written notice that a consumer disputes a debt, the collector within 30days must obtain written verification and validation of the amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed and must mail said verification to the consumer.
7. Proof of debts – Debt collectors are required by federal law to send “verification and validation” of a debt when the alleged debtor in writing disputes the debt within 30 days of a debt collector’s first contact. The debt collector must send supporting documentation proving a debt is owed and until they send proof of debt they may not communicate or attempt to collect the alleged debt. It is important the alleged debtor request validation and verification within 30 days of a debt collector’s first contact and that the dispute letter be certified return receipt requested, to establish a paper trail.
8. Cease and Desist - Any and all communications, including telephone calls and letters, must immediately stop once a debt collector receives a “cease and desist” letter. There is no specific required language, only a directive that all communications must stop. All cease and desist letters should be sent with return receipt requested.
9. No “Mini-Miranda”- In the initial communication, the debt collectors must state "This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information will be used for that purpose." In every conversation, message, or letter they must state they are a debt collector. Debt collectors must also identify their company name during the communications, whether verbal or written. It is a violation of federal law if a debt collector fails to provide this required information.
10 . Contact after attorney representation- Once a collector is told a individual is represented by all conversations, messages, letters or any other communication must immediately stop.
The Creditor Harassment attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have are well versed in the litigation of cases involving Collection Harassment and have the knowledge, experience, and passion to hold Collection Harassment offenders accountable for the harm they cause consumers and their families. We are dedicated to proving that Collection Harassment operators cannot afford to take advantage of the consumer. If you are being harassed by an abusive creditor, contact our collection harassment lawyers today for a free case review. We can assess your case in accordance with debt collection laws and determine whether we can help stop the harassing collector calls.
Morgan & Morgan Debt Harassment Attorneys in the News:
Mortgage Catch Pushes Widows Into Foreclosure, The New York Times
Phantom Debt Collectors From India Harass Americans, Demand Money, ABC News
Woman Sues Debt Collector and Bank, My Fox Orlando
Widow Speaks Out About Debt Collection Tactics, ABC 7
Judge Says Widow Harassed, The Wall Street Journal
Debt Collector's Alleged Tactics Lead to Lawsuit, NBC2
For the Families of Some Debtors, Death Offers No Respite, The Wall Street Journal
From the Article:
Inside Edition Investigates Telephone Terrorists, Inside Edition
Debt Collectors Seek New Media Tactics: Email, Cell Phone and Text Messages, ABC News
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Recovery in a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Woman was widowed when her husband died from lung cancer. The total award after apportioning damages based on assignment of fault was $46.3 million.
A 27-year-old man suffered multiple broken bones, a shattered jaw and a collapsed lung after he was hit head-on by a pick-up truck going the wrong way on Semoran Boulevard. The accident also left him unable to have children.
In a case against R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, attorneys Keith Mitnik, Greg Prysock, Joe Taraska and Katy Massa recovered a $40 million tobacco litigation verdict on behalf of the husband and daughter of a woman who died after smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for 36 years.
Failure to perform a timely C-section resulting in serious injury.
Medication overdose of a 26 week premature newborn against a hospital.
In January 2011, Keith Mitnik obtained an $18.8 million verdict on behalf of a motorcyclist who was rendered a paraplegic when a car pulled out in front of him.
11-year-old girl involved in rear-end motor vehicle accident suffered paralysis from the waist down.
Recovery for national class of poultry workers.
Award for a class of oil, gas and petroleum inspectors paid illegal "chinese overtime" rather than proper time and a half.
$9.975 million dollar settlement on behalf of off-shore oil inspectors not properly paid for all hours worked.