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Life is hard enough when bills are mounting up and you are left struggling to make ends meet. The last thing you need at such a difficult time is debt collectors unlawfully harassing you. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to make them stop on your own. You need an experienced debt harassment attorney in your corner to protect you from creditor harassment.
At Morgan & Morgan, we represent individuals in Florida who are being harassed by bill collectors. Our experienced St. Augustine attorneys are well-versed in debt harassment law, including the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). We understand what constitutes a violation, and the remedies available under the law.
To learn more about how a Morgan & Morgan debt harassment attorney can help, fill out our free, no-risk case review form.
Why It Can Be Difficult to Stop Debt Harassment on Your Own
Many of our clients have tried to stop creditor harassment on their own, but have had little success before coming to us for help. There are several reasons why consumers may be unable to stop debt harassment without the help of an attorney:
- Creditors are not usually intimidated by consumers who do not have legal representation.
- Bill collectors often assume that consumers don’t know or understand their legal rights.
- Specific steps must be taken to stop creditor harassment, and debtors who lack legal guidance may omit a critical step in the process.
- When you hire an attorney to represent you, creditors must cease contacting you directly and contact your attorney instead – and that alone can bring great relief for victims of creditor harassment.
Debt Collector Harassment, Violations, and Scams
Federal law provides protection for consumers against harassment and unfair debt collection practices. Nevertheless, some debt collectors employ various illegal actions, and violate the law while attempting to collect debt, including:
- Harassment: Federal legislation lists examples of harassing conduct, including: Numerous, daily phone calls to debtors and their family and friends; repeated calls leaving no message; using social networks; using robo-dialers, hang-ups; speaking in a belittling manner; rude, argumentative, or embarrassing conduct, and lies and misleading comments.
- Threats: Debt collectors are prohibited from creating a sense of false urgency by making threats. This includes suggesting that legal action will be taken, property will be repossessed, wages will be garnished, or the debtor’s credit will be ruined.
- Calls at work: It violates the law when creditors make calls to a debtor’s place of employment. This includes speaking with the debtor’s employer or co-workers, calling the debtor’s cell phone at work, calling the debtor’s direct line, and leaving messages about the debt.
- Collecting debt not owed: Creditors may not attempt to collect more than the amount owed, or the actual principal and interest of the debt. They may not collect on higher interest rates, penalties, inappropriate late fees, attorney costs, or other add-ons.
- Contacting third parties: Creditors are prohibited from speaking with any other party about the debt, unless the debtor has given express permission. This includes family members, neighbors, co-workers, and employers.
- Failure to give written notice: Debt collectors must send written notice stating the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor, and the fact that the consumer has 30 days to dispute the debt in writing.
- Cease and desist: Debt collectors are required by law to immediately stop contacting a debtor once a “cease and desist” letter – a directive to stop contacting the debtor – has been received.
- Proof of debt: When a consumer disputes a debt, the collector has 30 days after notice is received to produce written verification and validation of the amount of debt owed and to whom. Meanwhile, the collector may not contact the consumer or take any collection action.
- Omitted “Mini-Miranda:” Debt collectors must identify themselves as such in their initial communication with a debtor. Failure to do so violates federal law.
- Contacting a debtor who has legal representation: Debt collectors who have received notice that a debtor is represented by an attorney must contact the attorney – not the debtor – from that point forward.
What We Can Do to Help Stop Debt Harassment
At Morgan & Morgan, we are dedicated advocates for our clients. If creditors are harassing you, our debt harassment lawyers know the steps to take to protect your rights, including:
- Sending a letter demanding that the bill collector halts all communication to you;
- Requesting validation and calculation of the debt;
- Sending a letter contesting the debt;
- Filing a lawsuit, if necessary;
- Reviewing any logs of phone calls, text messages, voice mails, or other records you have kept;
- Issuing a subpoena for phone records;
- Obtaining information about the bill collector through a private investigator; and
- Reviewing any current cases in which your creditor is a party.
Contact us for a free case evaluation with our online form. We can tell you when the conduct of creditors qualifies as harassment and how our firm can help you hold these collection agencies accountable. You may have the right to collect compensation, and we can help.