I have seen creditors violate Florida’s consumer protection statute (“FCCPA”) in almost every most possible manner. That being said, in my experience, the following three violations occur most frequently:
- Harassing phone calls – This is by far the most prevalent creditor violation that I come across. The law is not exactly black and white on what constitutes harassment under the FCCPA. There are many factors that come into play when determining if a creditor is legally harassing you. I can say with confidence if you have told a creditor to stop calling at least three times, and they continue to call you, there is a good chance you have a harassment case against the creditor. Essentially, you have to be able to show a pattern. For example, if you have told a creditor to stop calling three times and explained you cannot afford to pay the subject debt, why else are they calling? I make the argument that they are calling solely to harass you. I have yet to lose this argument.
- Calls to the workplace – This section of the statute is very tricky as well. For instance, if you listed your employer’s telephone number on the creditor’s contract, creditors will argue that they had written permission to contact your employer in an attempt to collect the subject debt. Further, if they contact you directly at work, this does not violate the statute either. However, if they contact a third-party such as a colleague or your boss, they most likely have violated the statute even if they didn’t discuss the debt.
- Knowingly attempting to collect a debt that is not owed – The key word here is “knowingly”. Creditors have to have actual knowledge that the debt they are attempting to collect is not owed. This seems to happen many times with cable and internet companies. These companies will state you owe money for services rendered. Shockingly, after informing them that you never had their services or you paid your bill, they will continue attempting to collect the subject debt. This is a violation.
- Remedies – Pursuant to the FCCPA, a consumer is entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory damages, any actual damages, attorney’s fees, and costs. Simply put, you never will have to pay attorney’s fees or out-of-pocket expenses in these types of cases, and in many scenarios, you will be awarded up to $1,000 in statutory damages.
What To Do If You Fall Into One Of These Categories
If you are victim of one of these violations, you need to speak with a consumer protection attorney immediately. What separates me from many other consumer protection attorneys is, I personally speak with you and evaluate your case. At bigger firms, you will be lucky to ever speak with an attorney. Most of the time, you will be communicating with a legal assistant. If you think you have a case, call me at 727-344-0123, or e-mail me at email@example.com and tell me what has happened.