Federal Violations in Collection Practices
The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides protection to Consumers from debt collection violations and the abusive practices of Debt Collectors. The FDCPA is often used in combination with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FDCPA usually applies only to third party Debt Collectors, although many States have provision that protect against original Creditors.
The FDCPA prohibits various debt collection violations including calling before 8:00 A.M. and after 9:00 P.M., failing to terminate communication upon request, calling the Consumer continuously with the intent to harass, calling at the Consumer’s employment after being advised such calls are not acceptable, and contacting the Consumer after being notified he is being represented by an Attorney.
Other debt collection violations prohibited under the FDCPA include using deceit to collect the Debt, such as representing one is an Attorney of law enforcement officer, publishing the Consumer’s name on a bad debt list, using profane language, and communicating with third parties, such as relatives, neighbors or friends. In addition, a Collector cannot seek amounts that are not permitted under the contract or relevant law, or threaten legal action or arrest, if such action is not permitted or contemplated.
If the Collector violates any or a number of these provisions, the Collector may be liable for Statutory Damages of $1,000, plus Actual Damages, and reasonable Attorney fees.
State Prohibitions Against Creditor Harassment
Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act
The Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act (FCCPA) is governed and enacted by Sections 559.55 through Sections 559.785 of the Florida Statutes. The Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act is Florida’s version of the Federal Consumer Collection Practices Act. The State and Federal Statutes are substantially similar with some differences.
Florida Statute 559.715 of the Consumer Collections Practices Act states that in collecting consumer debts, no person may simulate that he is a law enforcement officer or representative of a government agency, use or threaten to use, force or violence, or tell a debtor that he will disclose to others, information regarding the debtor’s credit problems. The person (collector) may not reveal the dispute regarding the debt to the debtor’s employer, prior to judgment. Once a judgment is entered against the debtor, the person or collector may reveal such information.
The person or collector may not reveal to the debtor’s family information regarding the debtor’s reputation or creditworthiness, unless the receiving family member or members have a legitimate business need for such information.
The person or collector also may not communicate with the debtor or her family with such frequency as can reasonably be considered harassment. The collector may not use obscene, profane or abusive language or attempt to collect a debt that is knowingly not legitimate. The collector may not issue a communication to the debtor that gives the appearance of being authorized by a governmental agency or an attorney, when neither is the case. The collector may not advertise for sale a debt as a method to coerce payment, without a court order or in instances wherein the collector is acting as an assignee for the creditor. The person or collector cannot communicate directly with a debtor if the person knows that debtor is being represented by an attorney.
There are numerous other debt collection violations that may be punishable if committed under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. All prohibitions can be found under Section 559.72 of the Florida Code.