Consumer Law

Consumer Protection
People all over the country have found themselves overwhelmed with harassing phone calls from creditors, account servicers, and debt collectors (a/k/a collection agencies). It is illegal for a creditor, servicer, or debt collector to harass, abuse, or oppress you.

Have you received multiple phone calls in the same day? Did you tell them to stop calling, and did they keep calling? Did you tell them you couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the bill, and they kept calling? Did they make back-to-back calls? Did they call you back immediately after you hung up on them? Have they called you after you told them you were represented? Have they called you at work? Or did they tell a relative, neighbor, a co-worker or anyone else that you owe them money? Did they make any call before 8am or after 9pm at night? Did they use an automated robo dialer to call your cell phone? Did they threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit? Did they curse or use obscene language? Did they report false information about you to a credit reporting agency? Did you tell them you don’t owe the bill, and they kept calling? These are just some examples of consumer protection statute violations.

The Statutes
The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, often referred to as the “FCCPA,” is a state law designed to protect consumers against creditor, servicers, and collectors who often use overly aggressive tactics when attempting to collect their own debt or debt that belongs to another.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, often referred to as the “FDCPA,” is a federal law designed to protect consumers against debt collectors who often harass, lie, and even threaten consumers in an effort to collect a debt when contacting them by telephone, email, or mail.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, often referred to as the “TCPA,” is a federal law designed to eliminate automated robo dialer calls to a person’s cell phone (unless that person consented to getting the calls). Damages for this violation are $500/call, and that can be tripled under certain circumstances.

The purpose of these statutes is to provide steps and guidelines those creditors, servicers, and debt collection agencies must follow when trying to collect legitimate debts while providing protections and solutions for consumers. If they do not follow these guidelines, they are liable under the statues for damages.

What Does it Cost
There is no fee in your consumer protection statute (FDCPA, TCPA or FCCPA) case unless we recover. Both the FCCPA and the FDCPA provides that a prevailing plaintiff (consumer) is entitled to his or her cost of the action and a reasonable attorney’s fee. And with the TCPA, normally there are enough phone calls and resulting damages that we can represent you on a contingency fee basis.

It does not matter if you owe the money or not. Regardless of the underlying debt, when a debt collector harasses you with calls even after you have asked them to stop, if you are successful, you can recover.

You Have Limited Time to Act
You can sue a debt collector within 1 year under the FDCPA; 2 years under the FCCPA; and 4 years under the TCPA.

Gather Evidence
Take notes. Document the time, date, the person you spoke to, and what was said. Document your objections in your notes and in a follow up letter, fax or email. Keep all notices and letters from collection agencies, along with the envelopes if you can.

It is important that you save all voice mails and phone messages.  If you record the conversation(s), get consent upfront first as Florida is a two party consent state. Make sure that you keep a record of conversations and the names of the calling party who are calling and harassing you. You could even take a picture of the caller ID, which would reflect the caller, date, and time.  Document all calls whether they are answered or not-especially calls before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. If you can tell, note whether the call was made by a dialer or if the call was passed from a machine to a person and if there were pre-recorded greetings or messages.

Pay attention to the ownership of your account. It is not uncommon for a creditor to sell debt to a debt purchaser. Keep all correspondence and notices. Keep thorough and detailed notes.

Let’s Connect
Call or write me, and we’ll go over what is happening to you and decide the best way to handle it.

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