Many debt collectors routinely violate consumer protection laws in their attempts to collect debts. Debt collectors are entitled to try and collect on outstanding debts, but they are required do so within the confines of the law. This is true even if you actually owe all or part of the money they are trying to collect. The law protects consumers by limiting what a debt collector is allowed to do when attempting to collect on a debt.
Common violations include:
- Calling you at work if the debt collector has reason to know that you cannot take calls while you are working. It’s usually enough for you to simply ask the collector not to call at work.
- Placing calls to any third parties other than your spouse. This includes family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. and it includes leaving a message on an answering machine or voice mail that may be overheard by somebody else.
- Contacting you by phone or mail after you have notified the debt collector that you are represented by an attorney. All you need to do is provide contact information so the debt collector can reach your attorney.
- Contacting you by phone or mail after the debt collector has received notice that you have filed bankruptcy.
- Making any false, deceptive, or misleading statements in the collection of a debt.
- Threatening to take legal action they cannot take or do not intend to take. For example, collection agencies threatening to sue people, threatening you with a writ of garnishment before a judgment has been entered, or threatening you with legal action after you have received a bankruptcy discharge.
- Using obscene, profane, abusive or threatening language.
- Misrepresenting the amount of the debt or its legal status.
- Misrepresenting that the debt collector is an attorney or is calling on behalf of an attorney.
- Reporting any false information on your credit report and threatening to report a debt to a credit bureau but not following through.
- Telling you that you have committed a crime or will be arrested for failing to pay a debt.
- Contacting you at a time or place known to be inconvenient. Any calls between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. are presumed to be inconvenient.
- Calling you excessively for purposes of harassment.
- Failing to disclose during every communication that the company calling is a debt collector.
- Failing to fully identify themselves when placing collection calls.
When debt collectors violate these laws, you can sue them. If you are successful, you are entitled to a judgment against the debt collector for as much as $1,000.00 in statutory damages or your actual damages, whichever is greater, and the debt collector has to pay your attorney’s fees and court costs.
If you feel that you are being unduly harassed by a debt collector, save every letters they send and any answering machine or voice mail messages they leave. If the debt collector advises you that they are recording the conversation, go ahead and record the conversation yourself. Attorney Mark Steinberg can review the letters and recordings and if it appears that the debt collector has violated the law, Mark S. Steinberg, P.A. can sue the debt collectors, make the harassment stop, and collect damages for you.
If you would like to speak with an attorney about possible violations of consumer protection laws, call Mark S. Steinberg, P.A. at (305) 671-0015 or fill out the Contact Form to schedule a FREE consultation.