DEBT COLLECTOR HARASSMENT AND WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
One of the most important things that you can do when you are being harassed by a collection agency is to document, document, and document. You need to have the who, the when, the what, and all the evidence that you can muster that these people are breaking the law and violating your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Documenting Phone Calls
Documenting calls from debt collectors is one of the most important parts of documentation. Your phone log should show the following information:
- Date and time
- The number and identification on your caller ID
- The phone on which you received the call, or if a third party received a call.
- Whether there was a conversation, a voicemail, or hang up.
If you do have a conversation with a collection agency employee, you will need to document this as well.
Get the company name, the name of the caller, the return telephone number, and the case number. Check the return telephone number and company name against the number showing on your caller ID. Write down everything about the call as you are on the phone, and attach it to the appropriate entry in your call log. Remember, Florida is a state with a two-party consent law. It is a crime to record a telephone conversation, electronic communication, or oral conversation without all parties consenting. And, no, you may not record them just because they say that they are recording you. A good reply would be along the lines of, “Well, since you’re recording me, do you give consent to me recording you?”
I am not taking any bets on what their reply will be.
Documenting Email and Letters
Some collections agencies will send out emails and letters that look as if they could be from governmental agencies or law enforcement, in doing this or inferring that they are a governmental agency or affiliated with law enforcement, they are breaking the law. Save and log all written or electronic correspondence from the collection agency that is harassing you. This includes SMS messages sent to your cell phone. All of these things are evidence, and you will need them to prove your case.
Remember, you have rights even if you are a debtor. If the collection agency is documented as being out of line, you can bring a case against them. Plaintiffs in these cases can be awarded $1000 in statutory damages per violation, actual damages, and have their litigation costs and attorney’s fees covered by the collection company. The law was designed to give people being harassed with illegal tactics a way to fight back.
You’d be surprised how many people don’t know that they have recourse against a collection agency that is violating the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Finally, if you need help in getting the debt collectors to answer for their violations, and obtain the damages rightfully do to you, get in touch with the office and make an appointment for a free consultation. After all, they have legal counsel on their side, and so should you.