It doesn’t take an attorney to stop incessant calls from debt collectors. Most people are not aware of their legal options for their rights when it comes to dealing with collection agencies and agents who may not be obeying the letter of the law. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the FTC receives more complaints about debt collectors than they do about any other industry. Their own website contains a list of actions against companies and individuals and a list of companies and individuals that are banned from the debt collection industry. Their website is also a source of valuable information on all of the current debt collection scams, including a recent bust against companies trying to collect “phantom” debt.
Unfortunately, a new twist on resurrected debt has come to the fore with repeated security breaches that expose consumers’ vital information. Not only do debt collection agencies purchase outdated information, but they also purchase fraudulent information wherein scammers have created phony debts that are passed as uncollectable or “charged off.” These “debt scavengers” are desperately looking to make a buck on debts – old, fraudulent, and even paid off – that they are purchasing for as little as a fraction of penny on the dollar. And, fortunately, some of the people purchasing this information are not really debt collectors at all.
Logically, the first thing that you need to do when you begin getting calls from a debt collection agency is to ascertain if they are actually a debt collection agency. Legitimate agencies understand that running afoul of the Federal Trade Commission will put them out of business and land them in very deep legal waters. One of the first ways to know whether or not a collection agency is legitimate is how they approach you in the initial phone call. Here are some signs to be aware of that may indicate a debt collection scammer instead of a legitimate agency.
If any of the above, up in your communication with the caller, report them immediately to the FTC. If you can obtain a caller ID identification from your telephone, then provide this with your complaint.
Any company or individual that is contacting Florida citizens in order to collect debts must be licensed by and have a surety bond posted with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Agencies that are licensed but have violated the conditions and regulations of their license may be subject to a bond claim. All debt collection agencies – even those located outside of Florida – are required to comply with these conditions.
Moreover, Florida has laws that govern how long a debt remains “live.” These laws are called statutes of limitation, and they prevent that from following you around forever. If your debt falls outside the statute of limitation that governs that type of debt, then the collection agency has no real right to collect. Furthermore, if they can get you to pay even a small amount on your old balance, the debt becomes live again and the clock is reset. Below is a list of the limitations that you will need to know.
Debts that have been discharged in bankruptcy are not collectible and attempts to collect these debts are violations of the law. While the statute of limitations may allow certain debts to expire, that is not to say they will not remain on your credit report for a minimum of seven years.
“Okay, Mr. Van Horn, but how can I just stop debt collection calls?”
The easiest way to stop debt collection calls is simply to demand that they stop. As stated above, legitimate debt collection agencies are exquisitely aware of what the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act demands of them. Of course, there will always be some rogue agencies and individuals who do not heed the law. One of the first things you should do when contacted by a debt collection agency is to request what is called a “validation notice.” The notice must include the name of the creditor with whom the debt originated, the amount of the debt, and a description of your FDCPA rights.
It should also give you a return address to which you may address your correspondence.
Request to any caller that they now refrain from contacting you by phone at home or at work, and send a letter by certified mail requesting the same. Keep copies of all correspondence, and the logs of all telephone conversation including the date and time that you requested that they cease contacting you.
At Van Horn Law Group, we are experienced in handling debt, debt collectors, bankruptcies, and many other circumstances that surround people with debt. When you need a little extra muscle on your side to stop debt collection calls, your first consultation is absolutely free. Our offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are open Monday through Saturday, and walk-ins are welcome. Get in touch with us today, and get that debt collector off your back tomorrow.
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