Anyone who has suffered from overwhelming debt knows the stress of the collection calls that never stop coming. It is important to understand that both federal and Florida state law place limitations on acceptable behavior for creditors trying to collect a debt.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that prohibits certain types of abusive behaviors by third-party debt collectors. These include calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., making threats, contacting your neighbors or family, calling your workplace, using auto-dialers or pre-recorded messages or misleading you as to their identity or the amount you owe.
The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) applies to both third-party collection agencies and to the creditors themselves. This law forbids intimidating behavior, cursing you out, threatening you and leaving messages about you with other people.
Some creditors and collection agencies also try to collect debts that have been discharged or that you never incurred. Some debts also have time limitations for liability; collectors may not threaten to sue you or make a credit report based on a time-barred debt.
If you find yourself being harassed by creditors or their collection agencies, you have the recourse of filing a complaint with the appropriate agency and getting damages. You should also know that filing a bankruptcy petition activates a stay that prevents most creditors from calling to collect.
Another problem people with debt can face is the barrage of letters from companies offering to negotiate a payment plan to discharge your debt. To be blunt, most of these are scams that will have you end up paying more money than you ever owed. If you are thinking about negotiating with your creditors, the best thing to do is to look for an experienced lawyer who can analyze your situation and advise you as to the best options.
How a qualified lawyer can help you deal with debt
If you are facing significant debt, the best way to handle it is to address the issues. Avoiding collectors or getting them to scale down the harassment will not resolve the main problem, which is your debt. Your situation is not as hopeless as it feels. A qualified attorney can help you deal with your debt. Depending on its nature, your lawyer may advise filing for bankruptcy or another approach to forming your get-out-of-debt plan. Look for a lawyer near you who knows all the various aspects of handling debt and can come up with a strategy that will work for you.