Collection Harassment Claims

We hold creditors accountable for harassment

Even when you are behind, creditors have an obligation to collect with dignity. If they don’t respect your boundaries, you may be entitled to compensation.

6 Common Types of Creditor Harassment that May Entitle You to Compensation

Even when you owe money, your creditors may be obligated to pay you if they’ve violated these consumer protections

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We help our clients achieve the following Outcomes

Consumers are entitled to penalize creditors who cross the boundaries when collecting debts

Get Compensated for Violations of Your RIghts

The law creates reasonable boundaries that say to collection companies “even if someone owes a debt, you need to treat them with dignity.” They can’t embarrass you by telling others or your employer about their debts, they can’t say nasty things, and they can’t contact people to the point where their heads feel like they are going to explode. When those lines are crossed, a consumer is entitled to compensation, including a statutory penality, actual damages, legal fees and costs, and in some cases punitive damages.

Stop the
harassment

Let’s be real – sometimes asking nicely doesn’t work. Many of our clients have asked their creditors to respect their boundaries. They’ve told their creditors that they can’t pay, not to call them at work, or not to call them at all, but the creditors persist. When you hire the Debt Fighters, we don’t ask, we tell.

Keep creditors in check to deter illegal collection for you and others in the future

While the laws that are in place to protect consumers from harassing collection are clear, not all debt collectors actually take the effort to make sure those laws are being followed. If you are dealing with harassing conduct, there is a pretty good chance that 10 or 100 or 1,000 other people are dealing with the same problem from the same company. By enforcing your rights, you put creditors on notice that illegal collection will not stand, and deter illegal collection for yourself and others in the future.

We help people being harassed by collection agencies

Just because someone owes a debt, doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to dignity.

big change in my life (change in family, medical issue or accident)

Life happens, and that can look different for different people: A new family member or a family separation, an accident, a health issue or something else. Changes in our life can lead to debt directly (like medical bills) or indirectly by shifting our income and expense balance. But your life changing doesn’t mean that you should be oppressed by debt collection.

The debt they are collecting on isn’t mine

It’s bad enough to deal with oppressive collection on your own debt, but what about when it isn’t even yours? Whether a creditor is just getting you mixed up with someone else, or if you have had to deal with the horror of identity theft, you should not be collected upon for someone else’s debt – particularly if you have taken the steps to tell the creditor this isn’t your balance.

fixed income (SS, VA, Disability)

Particularly on a fixed income, sometimes what is coming in isn’t enough to cover what’s going out, and that can lead to debt accumulation. Its particularly important that your collection boundaries are protected, because you are depending on every dollar that comes in to put food on the table.

Income got interrupted (loss of job or reduction in pay)

Everyone hopes their income will improve over time, or at least hold constant. But real life isn’t always like that. For many different reasons, jobs can come and go, hours can be reduced, pay can get cut. For business owners and independent contractors, there can be little consistency in pay. In the meantime, debt can accumulate just to keep things afloat. When that debt falls behind, creditors can get demanding. Its important that they respect your right to dignity.
Dear Friend,

You might have got yourself into financial trouble and have a debt to owe, but you still have rights.

Getting calls and being harassed by collection agencies is not legal and you deserve better.

Have the calls exposed your debt to your employer, taken an emotional toll, stressed out your family or caused health issues?

This is wrong and you are protected by the law from this predatory behaviour.

We have helped many clients who find themselves being harassed by a creditor.

These companies can be held to account. In most cases we can stop the calls and in some we can make them pay for their behaviour.

If you want to speak to someone who understands, cares and can help you solve your problem, then book a call with one of our attorney’s today.

We can help.

Mike Ziegler

The Debt Fighter Freedom Plan

You Retain Us with No Upfront Attorney Fees

The process starts as simply as a phone call to protect your consumer right to be free of harassment and deception.

Investigate

Our team will review your situation and dig into the facts.

Fight the Creditors

We will use legal tools to hold creditors accountable. Under state and federal laws, creditors are required to pay penalties and actual damages when they violate consumer rights – even if you owe a balance.

Resolve the Case

We will see the case to conclusion. Enforcing these laws deters creditors from bad behavior in the future against you and other consumers who might otherwise experience similar bad conduct.
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If you want to harassment by collection agencies then book a call today and take the first step

FAQ's

Can I keep my car when I file

The short answer is “it depends, but usually yes.” Here is the longer answer: In a chapter 7 case, the trade-off for eliminating your debts is that you are limited on the stuff you can start over with. In other words, fresh start debt side, fresh start asset side. For those using Florida allowances (called “exemptions”), you are allowed to hold onto your home, $1,000 in equity in a vehicle, $1,000 in personal property, retirement accounts, and a few other categories of assets. Also if you don’t own your home, you get a $4,000 wildcard allowance. So if your vehicle equity (after substracking any loan on it) is less than the allowances, you can keep it. If its more than the allowances, you can still keep it, but you may have to pay extra.

In a chapter 13 case, you can keep all of your assets, but you commit to a payment plan.

Can I keep a credit card when I file

You have to list all of your debts when you file. You can’t selectively leave a debt off of the forms, even if you want to pay the debt. Any credit card listed is going to be closed.

If you have a card that is totally paid off, it may not have to be listed, but in most instances it will be closed anyway by the credit card company. I do not recommend making a big payment to $0 out a card right before bankruptcy in hopes that you can keep the card. A big payment on a debt shortly before a case can create complications within the bankruptcy.

When do I get my credit back?

Let me start with the bad news – bankruptcy stays on a credit report for up to 10 years.  But keep in mind that a credit report is about a lot more than bankruptcy, and when the bankruptcy process clears your debt, it gives you an opportunity to rebuild instead of being stuck with accounts that have a late balance.  

 

While each credit profile is unique, here is what we generally find:

  • Most clients have the opportunity to get better credit scores than when they started bankruptcy within 2 years, particularly if you are proactive in credit building.
  • You can get a car almost immediately after bankruptcy (but maybe with rough loan terms), you can get a credit card approximately after a year, and a mortgage after 2 years (however, these timelines vary based on income and other factors).
  • We help support the path to credit recovery by reviewing your credit report after the discharge to make sure it is accurate, and by including a subscription to a credit education class after the process is over to help identify opportunities to improve your score.

How do I know what chapter I qualify for?

While there are a number of factors that help guide us on what chapter is appropriate, the two most common are the “means test” and looking at what types of debts you are looking to address.

The means test looks at your household income as compared to the statewide median income for your household size. Its government’s way of saying that if you make enough money, you should pay at least a portion of what you owe. Particularly for married individuals, the means test is usually calculated off of both spouses’ income, even if only one spouse has the debt complications. Sometimes this rule can make for difficulties in bankruptcy options, and we might look at debt consolidation as an alternative.

The second factor we look at is what debt-problems we are solving. Chapter 7 does very little to assist with problems with secured debt, like a car loan or a mortgage that is behind.

Can I be denied a bankruptcy discharge?

Generally, for someone who meets the basic bankruptcy requirements and is filing in good faith, they will be granted the discharge unless they have done something to disqualify themselves – for example, if they committed fraud

FAQ's

We take these cases on a contingency basis, which means there are no fees or costs up front.  The laws that protect these consumer rights say that the companies who violate the laws have to pay for attorney fees and litigation costs.

Some of the least scrupulous of collectors do something called “call spoofing” to mask their phone number.  This sneaky tactic can add to already frustrating illegal collection. 

 

But for us to be able to pursue a claim to enforce your rights, we need to know who to pursue.   If you get calls like this, take down as much information as you can so we have the best chance possible to identify the company who is calling.

Debt collectors cannot talk to people who aren’t obligated on the debt about the balance.  The law creates a limited exception where a collector can talk to third parties to get your contact information, but they aren’t supposed to talk about the debt in the call.

Unless a collector has a judgment, they should not be calling your place of employment at all.

If you are getting garnished, there has probably been a judgment entered against you.  It isn’t illegal to collect on a judgment, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t questions you should get answered.  Moreover, you may be entitled to protections that may stop the garnishment.

Generally, a collector cannot call you several times a day, and if  you have set boundaries for when you do not want to be called, those boundaries should be honored.  So if you have told a collector that you don’t want to be called during working hours or to stop calling you altogether, and your requests haven’t been honored, you may have a claim.

The laws that create an enforcement mechanism for collection harassment mostly apply to consumer debts.  While there may be options available to resolve business debts (such as debt settlement, breach of contract claims, or bankruptcy), the FDCPA and similar laws usually don’t create an outlet to sue based on those debts.

Just because you owe money, that doesn’t mean that debt collectors can do whatever they want.  When it comes to debt collection, you have legal rights.   And when those rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation for violation of state and federal laws.  (You heard that right – the very companies that you owe money to may have to pay you if they have been a pain in your backside!)

Know Your Rights!
The Law Office of Michael A Ziegler, PL: Debt Fighters is a collection harassment law firm in Clearwater, Florida, serving consumers throughout the state in protecting their rights.  So what are the laws that protect against unlawful collection?

  • The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):  This is a federal law that provides restriction on debt collectors to stay they can’t misrepresent your debt, they can’t collect overly aggressively, and in some cases, they can’t you at all.
  • The Florida Consumer Collect Practices Act (FCCPA):  This is a state law which expands the boundaries of the FDCPA.  Through the FCCPA, any company collecting on a debt has to follow the law, even if they aren’t professional debt collectors.  The FCCPA also opens the door to more aggressive penalties, where in some instances a wrongful collector can be responsible for punitive damages!
  • The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA):  This federal law provides protections for when someone is using an automatic dialing device to call your cell phone without your permission.
  • The Bankruptcy Automatic Stay:  Provides protections to people who have filed for bankruptcy

Debt Collection Attempts
The attorneys at The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, PL have been safeguarding consumer rights when it comes to debt collection attempts for many years. We understand that while debt collectors can be annoying, sometimes they take it a bit too far and can actually break state and/or federal laws. Here are some things that debt collectors cannot do when seeking payments:

Cannot: Contact your employer or co-workers

Debt collectors are not permitted to enter your workplace or contact an employer regarding payments unless they have a judgment. By doing so, it publicizes your debts and lets others know about your personal finances. While a debt collector may call you directly while at work, they cannot reveal their identity to an employer or coworkers (so if left a message with someone at your office to say “tell Bob to return my call at Collection Inc, they would be violating your rights).  

Can: Contact you, but not too much

No-one likes to get a collection call, but no all collection calls violate your rights.  A simple call every couple of days without any abusive language may comply with the law.  But if the debt collect goes overboard with the calls, they might violate your rights.  Here are some specific scenarios that are likely violations of the law: 

  • The calls come before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
  • Calls come multiple times per day or even multiple times per hour.
  • The calls come after you have told the caller to stop or that you can’t pay (even if you just told them verbally).
  • The caller uses abusive language, or falsely implies that you will be arrests (you can’t be arrest for owing a debt).

 Cannot: Contact Third Parties About Your Debt

Very similarly to the rules for an employer, a debt collector cannot call friends and family about your debt.  They are allowed to call 3rd parties to get your contact information if they don’t already have a way to get a hold of you, but they can’t use that exception to reveal to the third party that you owe a debt.

 Can: Collection on a Debt that is Past “Statute of Limitations” (sometimes)

Many people are aware that there is a limited time for a company to collect on a debt.  The laws for this are called the Statute of Limitations (“SOL”).  SOL controls how much time a company has to file a lawsuit, but once the lawsuit has been filed, the SOL no longer prevents collection.  If a lawsuit has not been filed, and the collectors are still trying to recover the balance, that may still be lawful, as long they disclose they cannot sue you on the balance.  If such disclosure has not been made, the collection would likely be a violation of consumer protection law.

  • Under the laws outlined above, there are varying penalties depending on what the debt collector has done wrong, and how it has impacted you.  Recoveries under these laws may include:

    1. Economic damages – any out-of-pocket from the bad conduct;
    2. Emotional damages – in more extreme cases of emotional harm and embarrassment;
    3. Statutory damages – preset damages set out under the applicable statute;
    4. Injunctive relief – in other words, make them stop;
    5. Punitive damages – if the bad guy has done something “really bad”, they may have to pay for it; and
    6. Legal fees and cost.

    Also, although not specifically set out under the laws, sometimes in negotiating a resolution on these matters, a settlement might offer other benefits to the consumer.

In most instances, we are able to take these cases on a contingency basis, meaning the consumer does not pay anything up front.  Under the way the laws are structured, the bad guys pay for our time and out-of-pocket in pursuing the case.

If you are overwhelmed with relentless calls, emails, and letters from a debt collection agency, contact us without hesitation to book an appointment with an attorney. We will do what we can to see that your rights are being protected, and assist in taking legal action if needed.  Schedule a no-commitment consultation today to see if your rights have been violated.

As you might imagine, debt collection companies are in the business of collecting money.  If they give the public the impression that they will easy admit that they are breaking the law, and that they will pay these penalties easily, they won’t last long in their line of work.
 
Often, enforcing these consumer laws requires filing lawsuit in state or federal court.  While we have significant experience in these areas, they are quite complicated for someone to attempt on their own.
 
Also, the consumer protection laws usual provide that the company who violated your rights has to pay your attorneys fees for you.  So there is no downside to have an experience attorney at your side.

Debt Collection Harassment? You may be entitled to Compensation!

Just because you owe money, that doesn’t mean that debt collectors can do whatever they want. When it comes to debt collection, you have legal rights. And when those rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation for violation of state and federal laws. (You heard that right – the very companies that you owe money to may have to pay you if they have been a pain in your backside!)
credit-harassment

Know Your Rights!

The Law Office of Michael A Ziegler, PL: Debt Fighters is a collection harassment law firm in Clearwater, Florida, serving consumers throughout the state in protecting their rights.  So what are the laws that protect against unlawful collection?

  • The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):  This is a federal law that provides restriction on debt collectors to stay they can’t misrepresent your debt, they can’t collect overly aggressively, and in some cases, they can’t you at all.
  • The Florida Consumer Collect Practices Act (FCCPA):  This is a state law which expands the boundaries of the FDCPA.  Through the FCCPA, any company collecting on a debt has to follow the law, even if they aren’t professional debt collectors.  The FCCPA also opens the door to more aggressive penalties, where in some instances a wrongful collector can be responsible for punitive damages!
  • The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA):  This federal law provides protections for when someone is using an automatic dialing device to call your cell phone without your permission.
  • The Bankruptcy Automatic Stay:  Provides protections to people who have filed for bankruptcy

Debt Collection Attempts

The attorneys at The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, PL have been safeguarding consumer rights when it comes to debt collection attempts for many years. We understand that while debt collectors can be annoying, sometimes they take it a bit too far and can actually break state and/or federal laws. Here are some things that debt collectors cannot do when seeking payments:

Cannot: Contact your employer or co-workers

Debt collectors are not permitted to enter your workplace or contact an employer regarding payments unless they have a judgment. By doing so, it publicizes your debts and lets others know about your personal finances. While a debt collector may call you directly while at work, they cannot reveal their identity to an employer or coworkers (so if left a message with someone at your office to say “tell Bob to return my call at Collection Inc, they would be violating your rights).  

Can: Contact you, but not too much

No-one likes to get a collection call, but no all collection calls violate your rights.  A simple call every couple of days without any abusive language may comply with the law.  But if the debt collect goes overboard with the calls, they might violate your rights.  Here are some specific scenarios that are likely violations of the law: 

  • The calls come before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
  • Calls come multiple times per day or even multiple times per hour.
  • The calls come after you have told the caller to stop or that you can’t pay (even if you just told them verbally).
  • The caller uses abusive language, or falsely implies that you will be arrests (you can’t be arrest for owing a debt).

 Cannot: Contact Third Parties About Your Debt

Very similarly to the rules for an employer, a debt collector cannot call friends and family about your debt.  They are allowed to call 3rd parties to get your contact information if they don’t already have a way to get a hold of you, but they can’t use that exception to reveal to the third party that you owe a debt.

 Can: Collection on a Debt that is Past “Statute of Limitations” (sometimes)

Many people are aware that there is a limited time for a company to collect on a debt.  The laws for this are called the Statute of Limitations (“SOL”).  SOL controls how much time a company has to file a lawsuit, but once the lawsuit has been filed, the SOL no longer prevents collection.  If a lawsuit has not been filed, and the collectors are still trying to recover the balance, that may still be lawful, as long they disclose they cannot sue you on the balance.  If such disclosure has not been made, the collection would likely be a violation of consumer protection law.

What are the benefits of filing a Debt Collection Harassment Claim?

Under the laws outlined above, there are varying penalties depending on what the debt collector has done wrong, and how it has impacted you.  Recoveries under these laws may include:

  1. Economic damages – any out-of-pocket from the bad conduct;
  2. Emotional damages – in more extreme cases of emotional harm and embarrassment;
  3. Statutory damages – preset damages set out under the applicable statute;
  4. Injunctive relief – in other words, make them stop;
  5. Punitive damages – if the bad guy has done something “really bad”, they may have to pay for it; and
  6. Legal fees and cost.
Also, although not specifically set out under the laws, sometimes in negotiating a resolution on these matters, a settlement might offer other benefits to the consumer.

How much does a Debt Collection Harassment Lawyer cost?

In most instances, we are able to take these cases on a contingency basis, meaning the consumer does not pay anything up front.  Under the way the laws are structured, the bad guys pay for our time and out-of-pocket in pursuing the case.

If you are overwhelmed with relentless calls, emails, and letters from a debt collection agency, contact us without hesitation to book an appointment with an attorney. We will do what we can to see that your rights are being protected, and assist in taking legal action if needed.  Schedule a no-commitment consultation today to see if your rights have been violated.

Additional Information:

Get Help Now!
If you believe that a debt collector has violated collection laws, call us at (727) 538-4188 or fill out the form to the right. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to accept your case with no cost to you unless we recover from the debt collector. Don’t let yourself be victimized. Contact a Clearwater debt collection defense attorney today from The Law Offices of Michael A. Ziegler, PL about Debt Collection Harassment.