Consumers should be aware of Unfair Collection Practices by Creditors and Debt Collectors
Part of my practice focuses on consumer protection. Primarily, I try to protect consumers from illegal, harrassing, or threatening collection practices. This can range over a variety of debt collection activities, including, but not limited to, HOA Assessment Collection, First and Second Mortgage Collection Activities, Credit Card Debts, and any other delinquent-account related collection activities. Many of these infractions come after you have retained an attorney and may seem very innocent. If you or someone you know is being harassed by a creditor, or is receiving questionable communications (either written or telephonic) pertaining an alleged debt, you may be entitled to recover damages for these violations. Many times it will require you to bring a lawsuit, and your attorney’s fees may be covered if you do that. Of the wide assortment Federal Regulations and State Statutes that are designed to protect consumers, there are a few “common” violations, they include, but may not be limited to, the following:
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
If you are constantly receiving calls from companies that you never gave permission to call, have asked to not call you any longer, or receive constant solicitations from an automated device, my firm may be able to help you. A violation of the TCPA may include calls you are receiving even after registering your number with the “Do Not Call” Registry, or if you have requested that the company stop calling you. The TCPA also prohibits automated calls to your cell phone without prior explicit (or express) consent. Under the TCPA, you may be able to recover between $500 and $1500 per infraction. If you are receiving calls at home after registering for the do not call registry, have not given companies permission to call your cell phone or mobile device, or have explicitly requested the company put you on their internal do not call list, you may have a the right to sue and recover damages. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact my office to set up a consultation at 813.502.6768 or e-mail me!
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
In one study conducted, it was discovered that more than 50% of US citizens don’t know what their credit score is. Because they haven’t checked their credit report, they have no clue how many mistakes are on it. Incorrect, or even blatantly wrong, information on your credit report can harm you financially. Whether you were denied credit based on these errors or you were unable to get a job that required a financial background check, you have may have a recourse to correct these errors and be compensated for any damages you incurred. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to sue your creditors (and the agencies they report this information to) for failing to remove mistakes from your credit report after you have reported it to them.
If you, like many Americans throughout the country, have found mistakes on your credit report, my office may be able to help you. We can help prepare letters that state the nature of your dispute, send them to the proper party, and try to get things cleared up before having to file a lawsuit. Should we need to file suit to protect and correct your credit reporting, generally we will take on most FCRA claims on a contingent fee basis for the attorney’s time spent on your case. The only cost you may have to pay is the cost of filing the lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed, you may be entitled to recover the actual damages you suffered. The home loan you cannot get, but would otherwise qualify for; that may be the actual damage stemming from the error in reporting. If you have discovered incorrect information on your credit report, and have been unsuccessful in finding a way to get it removed or corrected, please contact my office at 813.502.6768, or e-mail me to set up a consultation.
Dealing with the collection practices of creditors and their respective debt collection agencies, as well as their internal collection practices, can be a nightmare. In many instances, the creditor, or their debt collector, is trying as aggressively as they can to collect a debt, while at the same time staying on the right side of the law. This is, sadly, often not done properly and may give you a way to fight back against their illegal collection practices. If creditors or debt collectors keep calling you, sending threatening letters, or worse – then my firm is ready to help you end these unfair collection practices.
If, upon review of the documents, phone calls, or other communications you have received, our office discovers a collection practices violation, we will take your case on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not pay me or my office unless something is recovered. You may have to pay the cost of filing a lawsuit, but you will not be charged for any time an attorney spends on your case unless a settlement is reached.
There are two major consumer protection laws that provide the most help to struggling consumers, the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA)
Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from harassing you and requires that these companies, and their representatives, disclose certain information when they contact you or your family members. If a debt collector fails to do these specific things, the FDCPA may allow you to recover damages set by the statute, actual damages you have incurred, plus your costs.
The FCCPA is Florida’s law that in many ways mirrors the federal debt collection legislation. It is similar as to requirements but has some very different nuances – including more broadly defining the companies that are liable under state law versus its federal counterpart. If you are receiving calls or letters from a creditor that you feel is illegal, from fake arrest warrants for an alleged debt, to harassing calls or letters calling you a “dead-beat,” my office may be able to help. Please call me at 813.502.6768 or email me to set up a consultation.
Florida’s Lemon Law
Many of the consumer protection questions that I field involve a car that is in frequent need for repair. Florida’s Lemon Law is designed to help consumers that have to make the same repair to their vehicle over and over again. It is important to not delay in making these repairs as they must be made in the twenty-four (24) month period following the purchase. If you think you may have a potential lemon law issue, please reach out to my office at 813.502.6768.