Many people in South Florida have either faced creditor harassment in the past or are facing it currently. In addition to the notices sent by creditors and collection agencies, those people have to deal with incessant telephone calls and messages, not just to themselves but also to people who are close to them. In fact, some debt collectors are even known to have called people at their workplace. The harassment can, sometimes, also include threats of violence, profane language and misrepresentation of facts.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted to address this harassment and embarrassment. The main purpose of the FDCPA is to set guidelines about the debt collection methods and practices that are employed by debt collection agencies in order to recover debt. The debts covered by this act include personal debts such as auto loans, credit card debt, student loans, mortgage and medical loans. It is important to mention here that business debts do not come under the purview of the FDCPA.
The FDCPA makes it a debt collector’s responsibility to send a validation notice to a debtor within five days of the first contact. The validation should include information related to how much money is owed and to whom and what the debtor needs to do if he or she thinks that nothing is owed to the said creditor. If the latter is the case, a letter asking for verification of the debt needs to be sent to the debt collector within 30 days of receiving the validation notice. This will stop the calls for the time being but, once the debts are verified, the calls may begin again. A debtor can then ask the debt collector in writing to stop contact. Another option is to begin a bankruptcy proceeding, which immediately stops all creditor harassment.
According to the FDCPA, a debt collector is not permitted to contact a debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless the debtor has given permission. In addition, a debt collector cannot call a debtor at the workplace if that debtor does not grant permission to do so. Also, a debt collector is not supposed to contact a debtor’s family or friends for any purpose other than obtaining the debtors contact information. Finally, if a debtor has an appointed attorney, the debt collector must contact that attorney only.