The Florida state government and the Attorney General have implemented a variety of rules, regulations, and laws to protect consumers. The laws are meant to help residents of all income levels, races, and ages. Provided they live in Florida, the person can get assistance in dealing with debt collectors. The laws in place include the following.
-The only time a debt collector may contact you is if you are behind in paying your bills. The individuals needs to owe money to a creditor on a family, personal, or household debt. The bill needs to be legitimate. A collector may also contact you in Florida if an error has been made in your account or a mistake was made on one of your bills, and in these cases the phone call needs to discuss fixing the error.
-There are only certain methods as well as times of the day in which a debt collector may contact you. Those include in person, telephone, or by mail or email, telegram or a fax. However, the communication can’t be excessive. They can’t constantly contact you.
A debt collector may not communicate with you or your family with such a high frequency as what a reasonable person would consider to be harassing or excessive. In addition, the company or individual may not contact you at work or at your place of employment in Florida if the collector knows your employer does not approve, nor may a collector contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree to these hours in advance. These types of communication styles are again the law and rules put in place by the Florida attorney General.
-Another condition is that debt collector or the company they work for will be required to send you a written notice or some type of communication. This needs to be done in writing within five days after you are first contacted. So things, such as the money that is owed, will need to be memorialized in writing.
The communication (letter, email, etc.) must tell you the amount of money you owe on your bills or debts. In addition, this notice must also specify the name of the creditor or the company to whom you owe the money. Also, if you believe you do not owe the creditor, the regulations state the letter you receive must tell you what action you should take if you believe you do not owe money on the bills. So there must be something in writing that allows the consumer to dispute the charge.
-If you do not believe you owe the debt, or at any time, you may request that a collector stop contacting you. The only thing you need to do is to write a letter to the agency telling them to stop with all forms of communication. Once the agency or company that the collector works for receives your letter, they are not allowed to contact you per Florida law again except to say there will be no further contact from them.
The only time the collection agency may contact you after that letter is unless you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill. There are also some other exceptions too. The company may also call you again if they decide to, and are allowed to, notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action, such as a lawsuit. This also needs to be communicated if they decide to take some type of legal action that the court system in Florida allows.
-One of the key Florida consumer protections is that a debt collector may not harass you or abuse anyone, whether that person is you or your family. As an example, both the state of Florida and federal government law prohibit a collector from using threats of violence against the person, their family, a piece of property or reputation. In addition to that, the collector can’t use obscene or profane language; repeatedly or continuously make telephone calls with the intent to harass or abuse the person at the called number, or advertise the debt to people like your neighbors or employer.
There are laws in place that state they can’t be extreme collection tactics put in place. In addition, debt collectors are required by state rules and regulations to accurately disclose their identities as well as their employer to the individual who are receiving phone calls or written communication. The process needs to be transparent.
-In addition, a debt collector may not use false statements as they are trying to collect the unpaid bills that are owed to them. For example, they can’t falsely imply that they are attorneys, they they are about to sue you, that they operate or work for a credit bureau or misrepresenting the amount of your debt or bills that you owe, they can’t say that you have committed a crime. Additional regulations state that they can’t include the involvement of an attorney or legal professional in collecting a debt if they have no intention to do so, or indicating that papers sent to you are legal forms when they are not in fact legal, biding agreements.
In addition, Florida debt collection laws also say that collectors may not tell you that you will be arrested if you do not pay. This is a very aggressive, and therefore illegal, step that they can’t implement. The company can’t say that they will seize, attach, garnish, or sell your possessions or property or wages unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so and has a legal right to do so. The agent also can’t say that a lawsuit will be filed against you, when they have no legal right to file or do not intend to file such a suit against you for the unpaid bills.
If there are questions over what can or can’t be done, then complaints about collections agencies that operate in Florida may be filed with the Florida Department of Financial Services (1-877-693-5236). Consumers also have another option. You may also file a complaint with the Federal Government Trade Commission (1-877-382-4357).
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