When you hear the words “creditor harassment” you may think of a debt collector calling and using profane language or threats of bodily harm towards you or a loved one. And you'd be correct. Such behavior is prohibited by creditor harassment laws like the Fair Debt Collection Act (FDCPA) and Florida's Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). In this article, we are going to explore several common situations where people may not be as clear whether creditor harassment has occurred.
Calls to your family members or friends.
In November 30, 2021, a new law named Regulation F went into effect that clarified various aspect of the FDCPA. With respect to calls to family members or friends, the Regulation F advised that such calls are permitted for purposes of obtaining contact information of the account holder. However, the debt collectors are not permitted to disclose details of the account. Such behavior can still be considered a violation of the FDCPA.
Receiving multiples calls from the same creditor
Regulation F established a limit on the number of times a creditor may call. They cannot place more than 7 calls within a given week and they are not permitted to call back for a full week after discussing the account with the account holder. At the same time, there is precedent that says a creditor should stop calling altogether if you've spoken with them, told them you are unable to pay and ask them to stop calling.
Receiving multiple calls from telemarketers or scammers.
While you may receive a significant amount of calls from telemarketers or solicitors, such activity is not creditor harassment because they are not creditors attempting to collect a debt. At the same time, there are rules for such callers as well. Like creditors, they should not call before 8am or 9pm and have to identify who they and the company they work for. You can go to the National Do Not Call Registry to stop unwanted sales calls at: https://www.donotcall.gov/
Scammers attempt to commit identity theft by obtaining your bank account numbers or personal information. Often times, scammers are pretending to be debt collectors. To learn more about how to distinguish between a scammer and a real debtor collector, read our previous blog: Is This a Scam or Creditor Harassment? To learn more about phone scams in general, please read this article by the FTC: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/phone-scams
Being told that if you don't pay the debt there could be a judgment entered against you which may result in garnishment of wages or bank accounts.
This may sound like threatening language that you may think should be considered harassment. But if a creditor does have legitimate right to file a lawsuit against you then a judgment and/or garnishment could end up being the possible consequences. In such cases, the call would not be considered harassment because the creditor was providing a truthful warning about a possible outcome if the debt is not paid.
Receiving a collection letter for a debt that you already paid or settled.
If the letter was sent around the same time or shortly after the debt was paid or settled then it would not be considered creditor harassment. Even a letter sent 2-3 weeks after the fact may not be enough as creditors can assert “bona fide error” as a defense and part of that can be that they did not have enough reasonable time to process the new information. But after that reasonable period of time has passed, any attempt to collect a debt that's already been paid, settled, or discharged in a bankruptcy, would be considered a creditor harassment violation.
A debt that you already paid or settled is still shows a balance owed on your credit report
This could end up being a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). But the first thing you need to do is dispute the error first directly with the credit bureaus. You will then receive a response within 30 days of dispute. If the creditor fixes the error and removes the negative reporting from your report then all is well and there is no violation. But if the creditor verified the outstanding balance as accurate then it would be a FCRA violation.
If you believe you have experienced any form of creditor harassment, do not hesitate to contact the Holland Law Group to hire an experienced Florida attorney. We have attorneys throughout the state that can assist you whether you're in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval, Orlando, Sarasota, or any other area in Florida. Call (941)-306-3601 for your consultation today!