The following tips can help you maintain your sanity when it comes to dealing with debt collectors. The first step is to try and address the issue before it becomes a problem. While paying bills on time is ideal, it is not always possible. Sometimes the unforeseen can occur- the loss of a job or an unexpected health problem can cause you to fall behind on bills and accumulate a great deal of debt. It is important that you do not ignore the issue. First, contact your creditors and explain the situation, attempt to work out a payment plan before the bill is turned over to collections.
If this is not possible and the debt gets turned over to a harassing debt collection agency, you have options. Write a letter requesting that the collector stop contacting you. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collection agencies and attorneys must stop contacting you after receiving a letter requesting that they stop calling. You should also indicate any illegal actions committed by the collector in this letter. Keep a copy of this letter for your records.
After you send this letter, collectors may only contact you to acknowledge receipt of the request, to tell you their efforts have ended or to tell you that they are suing you. However, you should note that the FDCPA only applies to collection agencies and attorneys – it does not apply to in-house collection departments, although many creditors will honor the request. If your letter fails to end the harassment, a letter from a lawyer usually will. Additionally, once you have hired a lawyer, the collection agency or creditor’s attorney must only communicate to you through your lawyer. The other benefit of retaining an attorney is that they can help you raise legal claims under the FDCPA.
Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, it is illegal for debt collectors to do the following:
• Contact your employer or neighbors about your debt
• Call you late at night or at unreasonable hours
• Call you at work
• Call you repeatedly
• Engage in deceptive conduct
• Calling you without disclosing the collector’s identity
• Use obscene, derogatory, or insulting remarks
• Threaten arrest or loss of child custody or welfare benefits
• Publish your name
• Use any communication, language or symbols on envelopes or postcards that indicate that the sender is in the debt collection business
• Threaten self-help repossession without legal right or present intent to do so
If the collection agency is in violation of any of these laws, you may be able to sue them for damages, your attorney fees, plus an additional $1,000.00.
If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.