Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Are Creditor's harassing you? What are your rights under Florida law?

Did you know that collection agencies in Florida must be registered with the State in most cases?  If an unlicensed creditor calls you and tries to collect on a debt, you may be entitled to compensation.  It's important to know what company is attempting to collect on your debt and to document everything.  You only have two years to file an action against these agencies.  So call me today if you would like to discuss your matter.  I don't change any fees to call me and discuss your case. While I'm in Tampa, I can handle cases from all over the State in most cases.

Are you being harassed by creditors?  Call me today and lets discuss what can be done. Call Zonald at 813 413-5352 or email Zonald@zonaldlaw.com.  

Here are the rules in which the creditors must play by in the state of Florida.    

More after the jump.

Florida State Statute Regulating Debt Collection / Debt Collectors - Florida Statute 559.55

Here are the generally prohibited practices. In collecting consumer debts, no person shall: 

(1)  Simulate in any manner a law enforcement officer or a representative of any governmental agency; 

(2)  Use or threaten force or violence; 

(3)  Tell a debtor who disputes a consumer debt that she or he or any person employing her or him will disclose to another, orally or in writing, directly or indirectly, information affecting the debtor's reputation for credit worthiness without also informing the debtor that the existence of the dispute will also be disclosed as required by subsection (6); 

(4)  Communicate or threaten to communicate with a debtor's employer prior to obtaining final judgment against the debtor, unless the debtor gives her or his permission in writing to contact her or his employer or acknowledges in writing the existence of the debt after the debt has been placed for collection, but this shall not prohibit a person from telling the debtor that her or his employer will be contacted if a final judgment is obtained; 

(5)  Disclose to a person other than the debtor or her or his family information affecting the debtor's reputation, whether or not for credit worthiness, with knowledge or reason to know that the other person does not have a legitimate business need for the information or that the information is false;

(6)  Disclose information concerning the existence of a debt known to be reasonably disputed by the debtor without disclosing that fact. If a disclosure is made prior to such reasonable dispute having been asserted and written notice is received from the debtor that any part of the debt is disputed and if such dispute is reasonable, the person who made the original disclosure shall reveal upon the request of the debtor within 30 days the details of the dispute to each person to whom disclosure of the debt without notice of the dispute was made within the preceding 90 days;

(7)  Willfully communicate with the debtor or any member of her or his family with such frequency as can reasonably be expected to harass the debtor or her or his family, or willfully engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to abuse or harass the debtor or any member of her or his family;

(8)  Use profane, obscene, vulgar, or willfully abusive language in communicating with the debtor or any member of her or his family;

(9)  Claim, attempt, or threaten to enforce a debt when such person knows that the debt is not legitimate or assert the existence of some other legal right when such person knows that the right does not exist;

(10)  Use a communication which simulates in any manner legal or judicial process or which gives the appearance of being authorized, issued or approved by a government, governmental agency, or attorney at law, when it is not;

(11)  Communicate with a debtor under the guise of an attorney by using the stationery of an attorney or forms or instruments which only attorneys are authorized to prepare;

(12)  Orally communicate with a debtor in such a manner as to give the false impression or appearance that such person is or is associated with an attorney;

(13)  Advertise or threaten to advertise for sale any debt as a means to enforce payment except under court order or when acting as an assignee for the benefit of a creditor;

(14)  Publish or post, threaten to publish or post, or cause to be published or posted before the general public individual names or any list of names of debtors, commonly known as a deadbeat list, for the purpose of enforcing or attempting to enforce collection of consumer debts;

(15)  Refuse to provide adequate identification of herself or himself or her or his employer or other entity whom she or he represents when requested to do so by a debtor from whom she or he is collecting or attempting to collect a consumer debt;

(16)  Mail any communication to a debtor in an envelope or postcard with words typed, written, or printed on the outside of the envelope or postcard calculated to embarrass the debtor. An example of this would be an envelope addressed to "Deadbeat, Jane Doe" or "Deadbeat, John Doe";

(17)  Communicate with the debtor between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the debtor's time zone without the prior consent of the debtor;

(18)  Communicate with a debtor if the person knows that the debtor is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney's name and address, unless the debtor's attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the person, unless the debtor's attorney consents to a direct communication with the debtor, or unless the debtor initiates the communication; or

(19)  Cause charges to be made to any debtor for communications by concealment of the true purpose of the communication, including collect telephone calls and telegram fees. 
If a creditor violates any of the above, you do have civil actions against this creditor or collection agency.  They can be liable for actual damages, statutory damages up to $1,000 and attorney's fees. That's right, in most cases, hiring an attorney for these matters will not cost you any money.
You only have 2 years to act, so it's important to talk to a qualified attorney as soon as possible. 
Here is the section on what you can do: 
559.77  Civil remedies.-- 
(1)  A debtor may bring a civil action against a person violating the provisions of s. 559.72 in a court of competent jurisdiction of the county in which the alleged violator resides or has his or her principal place of business or in the county wherein the alleged violation occurred. 

(2)  Upon adverse adjudication, the defendant shall be liable for actual damages and for additional statutory damages of up to $1,000, together with court costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the plaintiff. In determining the defendant's liability for any additional statutory damages, the court shall consider the nature of the defendant's noncompliance with s. 559.72, the frequency and persistence of such noncompliance, and the extent to which such noncompliance was intentional. In any class action lawsuit brought under this section, the court may award additional statutory damages of up to $1,000 for each named plaintiff and an aggregate award of additional statutory damages not to exceed the lesser of $500,000 or 1 percent of the defendant's net worth for all remaining class members, but in no event may this aggregate award provide an individual class member with additional statutory damages in excess of $1,000. The court may, in its discretion, award punitive damages and may provide such equitable relief as it deems necessary or proper, including enjoining the defendant from further violations of this part. If the court finds that the suit fails to raise a justiciable issue of law or fact, the plaintiff shall be liable for court costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the defendant. 

(3)  A person shall not be held liable in any action brought under this section if the person shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error, notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error. 

(4)  An action brought under this section must be commenced within 2 years after the date on which the alleged violation occurred. 

(5)  In applying and construing this section, due consideration and great weight shall be given to the interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts relating to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. 

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Persons accessing this site are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications 

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