Being harassed by debt collectors is one of the worst parts of accumulating a significant amount of debt. You may pay them just to keep them from calling, or your circumstances may have changed, enabling you to now pay off the debt.
Regardless of the situation, it is important to understand that debt collectors do not always abide by the law and the rules surrounding debt collection. To ensure that you are not being taken advantage of, and that you are only paying debt that is rightfully yours, it is important to ask the eight questions below before you pay any debt collector.
What Is a Debt Collector?
Many people do not know that when someone calls them to recover debt that is owed, it is often not the original creditor. Most of the time, the person is calling on behalf of a debt collection company, and they have very specific rules they must follow. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from contacting you at certain times, or from contacting other people about your debt.
It is important to understand, though, that the FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collectors and not original creditors. On the other hand, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act outlines many of the same rules and laws, and it applies to both third-party debt collectors and original creditors.
When Is the Collector Calling?
Each year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives thousands of complaints accusing debt collectors of calling outside of the times they are legally allowed to. There are likely many more than just these, as many consumers may not call the FTC to make a complaint. It is crucial to understand that debt collectors are only allowed to call you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time. If a debt collection company is calling you outside of those times, they are in violation of the FDCPA and you can take action against them.
Do You Want to Make the Debt Collector Stop Calling?
When debt collectors are not in violation of the FDCPA, borrowers often think there is no way to make debt collectors stop calling. This is not true, though. You can request that the debt collection stops calling and that they only contact you in writing. To do this, you must put your request in writing as well, in the form of a cease and desist letter. You should use certified mail to send the document so you can track it and confirm that the debt collector did in fact receive it.
It is important to know that one cease and desist letter will only apply to one debt collector. If multiple collectors are calling you, a letter for each one is required. If you send a debt collector a letter and they then sell your debt, you will have to send a letter to the collection company that purchased your debt.
Is the Debt Yours?
Many people take it for granted that if a debt collector is calling them, they owe the debt. However, one of the most common complaints about debt collectors is that they attempt to collect the wrong debt from the wrong person.
Any time a debt collector calls, you should ask them to verify that the debt does belong to you. This is your right, and you should never pay a debt before a debt collector has verified it. To verify that the debt is yours, a collector must provide you with documentation from the creditor that initially held your debt. It is just as crucial to understand that you only have a certain amount of time to ask the collector to verify the debt.
Has the Statute of Limitations Expired?
In Florida, the statute of limitations on most consumer debts is five years. Debt collectors are hopeful that you will not be aware of this law and, therefore, will not take the necessary steps to protect yourself. If five years or more has passed since you accrued the debt, collectors are prohibited from calling you or otherwise trying to collect on the debt. However, if you have made a payment on the debt, that can toll the statute of limitations and the time limit will begin again on the date of your payment.
Has the Debt Collector Upheld Your Rights?
You have many rights when it comes to debt collection, and debt collectors must ensure that these rights are upheld. As such, they cannot request that you pay more than what you actually owe, and they cannot threaten you with a lawsuit if they have no intention of suing you. If a debt collector has infringed on your rights, you can file a lawsuit against them to recover actual damages and, potentially, even punitive damages.
Should You Repay the Debt You Owe?
There are some instances in which you may be tempted to forget about the debt entirely and not repay it. For example, if the statute of limitations has expired and debt collectors have stopped calling, you may think it is a good idea to not repay the debt. After seven years, the debt will also likely be removed from your credit report, which means it will not negatively affect your credit score. However, in most cases, it is a good idea to repay any outstanding debt that you owe. Seven years is a long time, and paying it back as soon as possible will help get you on the right track sooner.
Do I Need a Florida Debt Defense Lawyer?
The answer to this question is that it depends. If you have debt and a collector is infringing on your rights, it is important to speak to a Fort Lauderdale debt defense lawyer who can hold them accountable for upholding your rights. If a debt collector has taken legal action against you, it is even more important that you speak to an attorney. At Loan Lawyers, we have represented thousands of people in debt collection lawsuits, and have the necessary experience to help you win your case, too. Call us today at (954) 807-1361 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 2,000 homes from foreclosure, eliminated more than $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have recovered over $10,000,000 on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations. Contact us for a free consultation and find out more about our money-back guarantee on credit card debt buyer lawsuits, and how we may be able to help you.