How to Win a Lawsuit Against a Debt Collector
What we’re going to talk about today is when you can sue a debt collector for harassing conduct. Hi, I’m Mike Ziegler, Managing Attorney for the Debt Fighters. A Florida law firm focusing on helping consumers strategically eliminate serious debt.
You see, there’s a few different sets of laws that control how debt collectors can control a debt. Just because you owe money doesn’t mean make you don’t have rights. There are different sets of laws out there that require that, that collectors collect on debt with decency. Meaning, they can’t harass you, they can’t embarrass you, they can’t give you a hard time.
So let’s illustrate some of the most prominent of those different laws. What we’re going to be talking about briefly is going to be the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
So the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, also known as the FDCPA, is the federal law that controls how debt collectors can behave. Now, when I say debt collectors, that’s a very particular term in the law. That doesn’t mean the company that you’re debt originated with, so usually, it’s not going to be your original credit card company, for example. It’s going to be a down the line company that is specifically utilized to collect on back amounts that are owed. So, that’s going to be called a debt collector. And those collection companies are going to be subject to a number of federal laws that again, basically say that a debt has to be collected with decency and respect.
Secondly, is Florida’s version of the FDCPA, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, also known as the FCCPA. Now in many respects, the FCCPA is very similar to its federal counterpart. But one of the most prominent differences is that the Florida law applies not only to debt collectors, but to any company that’s collecting out of balance. So that can include an original predator and that can extend a number of protections to Florida consumers.
Now, the third law is the TCPA, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. That law is specific to calls to mobile cell phones. If you have told the company that they cannot call you, and if they are using an automatic telephone dialing system, telling them that they are no longer able to communicate on your cell phone, they can no longer contact you with that automatic dialing device.
So a lot of consumers have heard these devices inaction when you pick up a phone from a number you’ve never seen before, and you hear some sort of recording in the background. That is what we call an ATDS. And those calls can be controlled, particularly if they’re coming in from debt collectors, which is very common.
This trio of different laws provides a set of protections for consumers, such that even if you owe a balance, if your rights have been violated, you’re allowed to enforce those rights in court. What make these laws and particularly the FDCPA and the FCCPA particularly powerful is they have what’s called an attorney fee provision. What that means is that a lawyer who’s experienced in these areas generally can take a case on your behalf without having to ask you to pay upfront for it.
They can ask the collection company that’s violated your laws to pay your attorney for you. So this gives consumers an outlet to protect their rights without necessarily having to come up out of pocket for it to begin with.
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