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Can Debt Collectors Add Fees or Other Costs to What You Owe?

If you default on a debt like a loan or a credit card bill, your debt will eventually be sold to a collection agency. While the initial debt would have been owed to a bank or a credit card company, debt buyers will commonly purchase these debts at a steep discount from the original creditor. After the debt is purchased, the debt buyer has the right to collect the debt just like the original creditor would.

While the debt buyer may be able to pursue you for a delinquent loan or bill, can the debt buyer add to what you owe? Is it legal for a debt collector to add fees, interests, or other costs to your account?

Like most other legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” Legally, a debt collector may only add fees, interest, or other charges if they are authorized by law or were anticipated in the initial contract that authorized the debt. For instance, if a debt buyer purchases an old credit card debt, the debt buyer can only add interest or fees if the original credit card agreement allows it, or if it is allowed under Florida or federal law.

Most states have laws which regulate the amount of interest that debt buyers can charge. Unfortunately for Floridians, Florida is one of only nine states that do not regulate the maximum interest rates or charges that debt buyers can apply to an old debt.

Because some debt buyers are allowed to add interest and fees into the account, many people who owe old debts may find that what they owe the debt collector is much more than the original amount. If you are being pursued by a debt collector, it is important to request a verification of the amount you owe, pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

After you receive a verification of the debt from the debt buyer, obtain a copy of your credit report. The report will tell you the amount of the charged off debt in comparison to the amount that the debt collector says that you owe. If the numbers are very different, you should speak with an experienced debt defense attorney about ways to reduce the amount of the debt.

Almost every debt collector will agree to negotiate the debt and accept a lower amount than what the company says you owe. If you can’t negotiate the debt yourself, an attorney may be able to help. At Loan Lawyers, our debt defense lawyers can review your debt collector’s claims and make sure that they are not artificially inflated. We can defend you in any debt collection lawsuit, and will help you create a plan to manage your financial obligations.

If you are being pursued by debt collectors, don’t wait to get help. Schedule your free, confidential consultation at Loan Lawyers today by calling (888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813).

  • ABC News
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • CBS 4
  • CNN
  • Daily Business Review
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • NBC News
  • National Consumer Law Center
  • The New York Times
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
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