Your Rights Protecting You from Creditor Harassment
Creditors may attempt to convince you otherwise, but they are not able to contact you however they wish in pursuit of a debt repayment. Floridians benefit from a federal law entitled The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) that restricts creditor behavior.
Under FDCPA, it is illegal for creditors to do any of the following:
- Contact you at unusual times or in unusual places. There are certain hours in which a creditor is legally permitted to contact you, meaning they cannot contact you overnight or in the very early morning as a means to bother or frustrate you. There are also limits on the types of places they can attempt to speak to you. This can include your place of employment if your employer prohibits these sort of calls, or if you ask them to stop.
- Not identify themselves as a collections agent. If contacting you about a debt, creditors are required to identify themselves as such. They also must note if they are a lawyer or attorney.
- Use any harassing or intimidating language in communications. Creditors are not legally permitted to attempt to bully or threaten you through the use of swearing, yelling, or other incendiary language or methods. They also cannot advertise your debt or claim you owe more than you do.
- Ignore legal representation. If you inform a creditor you have an attorney representing you in affairs pertaining to your debts, they are required to communicate with your legal representative instead of going directly to you.
You can read more about your federal creditor harassment rights here. In addition to FDCPA, the state of Florida limits how often and for what reasons a collections agent can contact you if you write a letter asking them to stop frequent communication. They also cannot contact your colleagues or members of your family in pursuing your debt.
If a debt collector is repeatedly violating your rights under FDCPA, you also have the right to sue them. If you win, you can be entitled to damages, and they will be obligated to repay all attorney fees.
If you are considering suing a debt collector who is acting unlawfully, you should always do the following:
- Maintain a log of what time they call you, how frequently, to which of your phones, and from what numbers
- Keep all letters and written communication
- Ask and log the name of the person contacting you, if over the phone
- Record conversations if given permission (note that recordings without two-party consent are not admissible as evidence in the state of Florida)
Using Bankruptcy’s Automatic Stay to End Creditor Harassment
Significantly reducing or eliminating your debt can prevent creditor harassment in the future. If you find yourself overwhelmed by debt and are not sure how you will escape it, either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can potentially help work to relieve your financial situation going forward.
Filing for bankruptcy entitles you to an immediate court order called the “automatic stay.” This freezes all collections actions against you – including foreclosures, repossessions, and lawsuits seeking repayment. It also means all creditor communications with you must immediately cease. You will now be legally protected from any further creditor harassment for the duration of your bankruptcy process via this court order. This will allow you to focus on improving your financial situation through bankruptcy without having to deal with constant distractions and intimidating behavior.
Do Not Face Creditor Harassment Alone
Experiencing constant creditor harassment can be dispiriting, but you have rights as a debtor. At Cremeens Law Group PLLC, our team is committed to making sure the rights of our clients are preserved. You have options: Our Tampa creditor harassment attorneys are prepared to serve as your legal advocates, absorbing the brunt of creditor communications under FDCPA rules and taking steps to halt any illegal communications coming your way.