Early in my career, I stumbled upon some of Florida’s consumer protection laws. A friend was being harassed by a debt collector who was based out of state, but was conducting business going after residents of Florida. My friend was receiving late night phone calls, excessive letters, and even had friends and distant family members who were being contacted by this collection agency. This friend came to me to ask if there was anything I could do to help, which led me to the Florida Consumer Collection Protection Act. (FCCPA for short). Having struggled through the 2008 recession before becoming a lawyer, I knew how painful debt harassment could be, so I set about learning what I could to help.
Let me tell you, Florida may be a conservative, business-friendly state in a lot of ways, but this statute was artfully designed to protect the rights of the average person. Any business looking to collect a consumer debt in Florida should be well-versed in this part of the Statutes, but they often aren’t. I have seen numerous violations of this statute ranging from late-night calls, improper shakedowns for illegitimate debt claims, and circumvention of attorney-client rights. The widespread ignorance of the FCCPA by debt collection companies creates a great opportunity for anyone in debt trouble to strike back against their harassers.
Since learning about the statute, I’ve seen clients collect compensation from collection agencies, medical billers, and unsavory debt collectors and have derogatory marks on credit reports and thousands of dollars of debt wiped away in an instant. The FCCPA creates a cause of action for a variety of improper collection techniques including:
- Impersonating law enforcement or government agencies;
- Impersonating law offices or attorneys;
- Communicating with a person’s employer (or even threatening to do so) regarding a debt owed;
- Attempting to collect an invalid or illegitimate debt;
- Contacting a person or their family with enough frequency to constitute harassment
- Contacting a person between 9:00 pm and 8:00 am in the person’s time zone without their prior consent.
This list goes on to outline nineteen different types of behavior barred by the FCCPA with the intent of protecting you, the consumer. It is shocking how often the list is ignored. Knowing your rights as a consumer is important. You have an opportunity to protect yourself from these unsavory practices and recover actual damages, statutory damages, as well as all legal/attorney fees should your rights be violated. A link to the complete statute can be found http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599/0559/Sections/0559.72.html
You can find a list of all the prohibited debt collection actions in Florida online Here. Remember, if it feels wrong or like harassment, it probably is.
If you believe anyone attempting to collect a payment from you may be violating your rights, call us for a free consultation today. We at Guardline Law see debt harassment as despicable and love every opportunity to help consumers protect their rights.