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Robert N. Heath, P.A.
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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.

Debt collectors might claim to be an attorney or the communication is from an attorney - if this is false, it is against the law. They cannot make threats of legal action against the debtor if they do not intend to take it. It is illegal to make the false representation or imply that selling referring or transferring a debt will result in the consumer losing a claim or defense in its payment or become subject to practices that are illegal when it comes to these representations. They are not allowed to suggest that the debtor has committed a criminal act. Written communication that falsely suggests that it is from the state or local government is a violation.

Documents cannot be presented as part of a legal process if they are not. There cannot be a representation that the accounts were turned over to other purchasers for value. They are required to use the true name of the company they represent. Saying they are employed by a consumer reporting agency is against the law.

People who are facing financial challenges will likely dread calls from creditors. However, there are behaviors they are allowed and not allowed to do whether there are delinquent payments or not. A legal professional experienced in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act can help in defending against these behaviors and getting on stronger financial ground.

Source: ftc.gov, "807. False or misleading representations," accessed on Sept. 5, 2017

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