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Pensacola Consumer Protection Blog

What are important points about contact from creditors?

A major concern for Florida debtors who are having financial challenges is the constant contact from creditors. The debt is worrisome enough without the stress of those collection calls. Those who are struggling with debt should be aware that they have certain rights and there are things that creditors and debt collectors are not legally allowed to do. With debt collector contact, it is vital to remember that consumers are protected. If their rights are violated, it is the debt collector who can face problems due to their activities in the interest of collecting a debt.

Debt collectors are not allowed to call or make contact anytime they want. They are limited to calling between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. They cannot contact the debtor at work if they have been told not to. A debt collector can make contact through telephone, email, regular mail and text message if they adhere to the rules. Debtors might want to try to see if a plan can be worked out to pay for what is owed before taking steps to stop the contact. After that, the debtor should tell the debt collector in writing to stop making contact.

Creditor harassment and disputing or denying a debt

Floridians who are having problems with debt will often be targeted by unscrupulous debt collectors and outright scammers to try and get money from them even if they do not owe what the alleged collector says they do. Some collectors will make claims on debtors that the debtor does not believe he or she owes or would simply like more information about. While having financial challenges can be a fearful time, that does not mean that people who have significant credit card debt should allow themselves to be taken advantage of. Knowing what to do if the debt is not believed to be theirs or they would like more information is vital.

The debtor should send the collector a written request to dispute the debt. There can also be a written request to garner more information about the debt. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has letters that a debtor can use as a guide as to what they should say in the letter to the creditor or collector. When sending it, the debtor should keep a copy.

Am I protected from false representations by creditors?

Floridians who are in debt and are unsure of how to get out of it will frequently experience bouts of fear and worry and not know what to do. Making this worse is when creditors and debt collectors contact the debtor and use various tactics to try and coerce them into paying. Certain forms of this constitute creditor harassment and, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, are illegal. When the creditor or debt collector makes these false or misleading representations, it is important for the debtor to know how to recognize it and take steps to put a stop to it.

Debt collectors cannot use false or misleading representations to collect a debt. They cannot say that they have been bonded, are vouched for or have an affiliation with the United States or the state. They cannot use a badge, a uniform or a replica of these. They cannot make a false representation of the character, the amount that is owed, or the legal status. They cannot falsely represent services rendered or compensation that can be lawfully garnered by the debt collector when the debt has been collected.

Understanding the negatives of filing for bankruptcy

When Floridians are overwhelmed by consumer debt, the easy answer they will often get is to file for bankruptcy. The most common chapter for people with credit card debt and other issues related to it is Chapter 7. This is a liquidation bankruptcy that is supposed to clear the debts and give the person a fresh financial start. While that may or may not be fully accurate, it is not a solution to all financial challenges. Once the process is done, many people regret it and wish they had considered and found another alternative.

Bankruptcy all but destroys a person's credit. Filing for Chapter 7 will remain on the person's credit report for as long as a decade making it difficult to get new credit, get a mortgage or a car loan. Any property that is not exempt from being sold will be taken by the trustee for the bankruptcy and sold to pay back creditors. A person who owes child support and spousal support might be under the mistaken impression that filing for bankruptcy will clear these debts. It does not. These expenses are not covered under bankruptcy and they will still need to be paid.

Is Your Student Loan Assistance Company On The Watch List?

If you have student loans that have been difficult to pay, it may be tempting to accept an offer from a for-profit company promising to help reduce or even erase your debt. But according to an investigation by NerdWallet, many of these companies engage in questionable practices that may make matters worse for you.

Check the list

Legal help in dealing with credit cards and massive debt

Floridians who are in tough financial straits and are not interested in filing for bankruptcy might think they are at the mercy of credit card companies and debt collectors who will simply not leave them alone. They call constantly and engage in creditor harassment, allude to what can happen to a person's credit and property if they do not pay off their credit cards and generally make their lives difficult. What debtors might not be aware of is that they have certain protections available to them and can get the creditors to back off if they hire a qualified debt lawyer who understands how to handle credit card debt.

Companies and collections agencies will try to get debtors to pay whatever they can to settle a debt and continue with the harassment on an ongoing basis. In some cases, they try to get payments for debts the person does not even owe. Having legal assistance is vital as it can make the company prove that the debt belongs to this person. It can also result in the company negotiating to reduce or even eliminate some of the debt.

Is there a time limit for collectors to pursue consumer debt?

When confronted by financial challenges, many Floridians are left unaware that there are some debts that they are no longer obligated to pay. This will not stop certain unscrupulous debt collectors from trying to get something from the debtor, but time-barred debts have a statute of limitations. It is against the law for a creditor or debt collector to sue a debtor for failing to pay time-barred debts.

Collectors have the right to contact a debtor regarding time-barred debts. In some instances, they will inform the debtor that the debt is time-barred and they will commence with a lawsuit if the debt is not paid. However, if a collector does not inform the debtor that the debt is time-barred but there is a chance that it is, the collector can be asked if the debt has gone beyond the statute of limitations. When the collector gives an answer, he or she is obligated by law to tell the truth. In some cases, the collector will decline to answer.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act stops unfair practices

Pensacola residents who are confronted with financial challenges and are the subject of constant various forms of contact from debt collectors might not realize that there are limits to what these collectors can legally do. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has rules against unfair practices. There are certain tactics that the debt collectors are not allowed to use to try and collect on a debt. These are known as unfair or unconscionable means. Knowing what they cannot do is vital to being fully protected under the law.

The debt collector cannot collect an amount except that which has been specifically authorized under the agreement. That includes any interest, fees, charges or expenses that go beyond the principal. The debt collector cannot accept a check or payment that is postdated by more than five days unless there has been notification in writing of the intent to deposit it a minimum of three and a maximum of 10 days before it is deposited. The debt collector cannot solicit a postdated check to threaten or institute criminal prosecution. It is not allowed to deposit or threaten to deposit a postdated check or other payment instrument before the date that is written on it. An unscrupulous debt collector might try to foment a change by concealing the real reason for the communication such as a collect call or a fee for a telegram.

When you are in trouble over credit card debt

It is easy to get in over your head with credit cards. You have good credit habits, paying your bills every month. But something bad happens, that throws your schedule off.

You lose your job, or your spouse loses theirs. You or a family member is diagnosed with a disease. A family member runs up the bill without you knowing.

Recognizing creditor harassment and scams for debtors

For Floridians who have overwhelming credit card debt and are being contacted by creditors over delinquent payments, the worries can be a constant source of fear. While there are protections for debtors that are specifically designed to shield them from creditor harassment, that does not means that the calls over missed payments will stop. In some instances, the debt collectors are not representatives of the creditors, but are simply scammers trying to get money from distressed people. In others, the creditors are engaging in various behaviors that are clear violations of the law or stretch the rules and go over the line.

For any situation involving debt, legal help can avoid and protect debtors from various behaviors from legitimate creditors and scammers alike. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people are frequently contacted by people who claim to be debt collectors, but are not. They will use terminology that mimics that of legitimate debt collectors and use a debtor's financial situation as a method to garner information and money. They might have personal information about a debt, names, numbers and more.

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