Debt Collection

Debt Collectors Will Soon Be Reaching Consumers via Text and Social Media

Debt collectors will soon have another way to reach consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a ruling outlining how collectors will soon be able to reach consumers via text messaging and social media The federal government has cleared the way for collection agencies to send unlimited texts, emails and even instant messages on social media platforms. 

Debt collectors will be required to include instructions on how to opt out of these messages within the text of the communication. The CFPB will also limit collectors to calling consumers to seven calls per week per debt.  

Debt Collection

State and Federal Agencies Teaming Up to Combat Illegal Debt Collection

Debt collection is a profitable business in the U.S., but not all debt collectors follow legitimate, legal collection practices. According to officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)most consumer complaints made annually involve illegal debt collection practices, which is why they have made recent efforts to crack down on these types of tactics. 

In response, the FTC has launched a multi-agency campaign called “Operation Corrupt Collector.” This crackdown campaign focuses on educating consumers on how to identify illegal debt-collection practices, as well as enforcement against debt collectors who are found to be breaking the law.  

Debt Collection

Facing Debt Collection? Know Your Rights.

When someone is facing debt collection, it is important that person knows his or her rights.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers against unfair collection practices, including:

  • Calling you repeatedly to annoy or harass you;
  • Trying to collect more than you owe;
  • Failing to send a written notice of the debt;
  • Threatening violence, using profanity or offensive language;
  • Threatening dire consequences (i.e. – lawsuits, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, permanently ruining your credit);
  • Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.;
  • Revealing debt to third parties (i.e. – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.);
  • Contacting you at your work, after you have requested them to stop;
  • Failing to verify disputed debts;
  • Ignoring cease communication requests.
Debt Collection, Debt Relief

What Rights Do Consumers Have When it Comes to Debt?

When someone is in debt, he or she may feel trapped with nowhere to turn. According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, the average American consumer has $38,000 in debt, not including their mortgage.

As soon as creditors or debt collectors begin contacting the consumer regarding what he or she owes, the person may feel like he or she has no choice but to do whatever is being demanded of him or her. However, most consumers do not realize that they do, in fact, have rights when it comes to debt they owe. It helps to know what these rights are when debt collectors or creditors come calling.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

What You Can Do if a Creditor Is Harassing You

The business of debt collection can be intense and stressful for the person on the receiving end of the call. Debt collectors can be relentless and will stop at nothing to reach the person owing the debt. However, consumers do have rights, and it is important that they be aware of what those rights are in the event they are on the receiving end of creditor harassment.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Consumers are protected from abusive and unfair debt collection practices through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA provides rules that third-party debt collectors must follow when they contact consumers to collect upon the debt.

The following acts are specifically prohibited under the FDCPA:

  • Repetitive phone calls from the debt collector with the intent to annoy, harass or abuse the person answering the phone;
  • Using profane or obscene language when communicating to collect the debt;
  • Threatening physical violence against the person answering the phone;
  • Using deception or misleading collection practices, including lying about how much is owed and that the person calling is an attorney when he or she is not; and
  • Making any threats to do something that either the debt collector has no intention of doing or does not have the legal right to do.

The consumer has the right to send a letter to the debt collector informing them that they must cease and desist communication with the consumer due to their violations of the FDCPA.

Depending on how extensive the abusive tactics and harassment are, the consumer can sue the debt collector under the FDCPA. This lawsuit can include damages, as well as the consumer’s attorney’s fees for having to file the case. Damages can be even more extensive if the debt collector ignores the consumer’s written cease and desist letter and continues the abusive tactics.

Tactics to Keep in Mind

Keep in mind that these debt collectors are highly skilled at antagonizing the person on the other end of the phone. Do not fall prey to their tactics of intimidation and fear. They usually record these conversations in hopes that they can get the person to say something that will incriminate them or tie them to the debt. Whatever you do, stay calm but firm, and keep the communication brief.

It helps to keep records of these conversations and contacts in the event the consumer does wish to file an FDCPA claim. The more letters, text messages, emails and phone calls that are made and recorded, the stronger the consumer’s case will be. When talking with a collector, be sure to get that person’s name, the name of the company for whom he or she works, and a call back number.

One recommendation that could also help the consumer’s case is to ask for written verification of the debt. Never assume that the collector is providing accurate information. Once this information is requested, the collector has five days from the initial contact to provide this verification including the following information:

  • The amount of the debt;
  • The name of the original creditor;
  • Information showing that the person has 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt.

If any inaccurate information is provided by the debt collector, this could be used as further proof that they are exercising unethical debt collection practices under the FDCPA.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-stop-debt-collector-harassment-4107936

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-harassment-by-a-debt-collector-en-336/

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Debt Collectors May Soon Be Able to Text and Email Consumers

Debt collectors may soon have even more ways to reach consumers who are past-due on their debts. A new proposed rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may make it possible for debt collectors to contact consumers via email or text communications as they attempt to receive payment on overdue debts.

This news does not come as a pleasant surprise for many. After all, debt collectors do not have a good reputation for this very reason. They can be persistent, if not relentless, when it comes to debt collection.

It is reported that the CFPB received a record 84,500 complaints from consumers about debt collectors in 2017. The industry earns $10.9 billion annually and does whatever it takes to receive payment on a debt.  The industry does not seem to be slowing down either. Since the end of the recession, American consumers have taken on more debt, including car loans, mortgages and credit card debt.

This news follows recent revelations that are now coming out about the direction the CFPB has taken since the start of the Trump administration. Many critics argue that this move is further evidence that the agency is no longer going after corporations for financial abuses as hard as they have in the past. After all, this latest move does not seem to protect consumers as much as it protects the companies seeking to reach these consumers.

Arguably, the number of communications from collectors will increase, if and when this rule takes effect. However, the law does limit the frequency and content of communication being received. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides rules that collectors must follow. However, this law was originally written in 1977, which means it has not been updated to include email and texting technology. It is unclear at this point whether the law will be modified to reflect the updates in technology.

Without having any strict regulations to guide debt collectors on how often they can communicate with a person via text or email, collectors are essentially free to do what they want when contacting someone. The number one piece of advice we give to people dealing with creditors is to be honest. If you are unable to make a payment, do not make a promise to do so and never hide from creditors.

If you are ready to put an end to creditor harassment and make a fresh start, consult an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney at Kingcade Garcia McMaken. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/text-me-debt-collectors-may-soon-be-able-to-text-and-email-consumers/

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

What Happens during the Debt Collections Process?

Debt collections are easily one of the most stressful situations a person can face. Dealing with debt collectors is also one of the most complained about issues, and it is not hard to see why. It helps to know how to handle debt collectors and the protections you have as a consumer.

When you are struggling to make ends meet financially, it can be frustrating to have debt collectors calling you or even worse, the threat of having your wages garnished or a lawsuit filed against you. A strong federal law, called The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), protects consumers against certain unfair collection practices, which include:

  • Calling you repeatedly to annoy or harass you.
    • Trying to collect more than you owe.
    • Fail to send a written notice of the debt.
    • Threatening violence.
    • Threatening dire consequences (i.e. – lawsuits, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, permanently ruining your credit).
    • Using profanity and abusive language.
    • Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
    • Revealing debt to third parties (i.e. – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.).
    • Contacting you at your work, after you have requested them to stop.
    • Failing to verify disputed debts.
    • Ignoring cease communication requests.

What Happens During Collections?

The first thing a consumer will notice after an account has been sent to collections is the number of calls from the creditor or the collection agency will increase. Debt collectors will try any means possible to get a hold of the debtor and get payment, even if this means violating a consumer’s rights. The debt collector will contact the consumer at any location possible, including home, cell phone or work number. When it comes to contacting you at work, certain restrictions do exist. The debt collector may not disclose any information regarding the individual’s debt, and if the individual requests that the communication stop at that point at the place of employment, under The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA),  the collector may not contact the person at work further.

The FDCPA also dictates other requirements as to when the collector can call, which is only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The debt collector is also restricted from using any language or tactics that may be deemed harassing, threatening or abusive.  If the debt collector tries to contact other third parties, such as friends or family members of the individual, they may not disclose information on why they are trying to reach the debtor but can only contact them to get the correct contact information for them.

Validation of Debt

Consumers have the right to request written validation of the debt from the debt collector. In fact, the debt collector is required to notify you that he or she has the right to request this validation within 30 days after receiving the first written communication from the debt collector. Requesting validation of the debt from the debt collector can also be done over the phone. By requesting validation of the debt, the consumer is making the debt collector verify that the debt is actually owed.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

What Trump Has Done to Undermine Student Loan Debt Reform

Student loan debt has skyrocketed since President Trump took office. In fact, the amount of student loan debt has increased by $110 billion in the last 16 months to a total of $1.41 trillion nationwide. It is currently estimated that 45 million Americans have student loan debt and this figure is up two million since Trump’s inauguration.

Not only has the number of student loan borrowers increased rapidly, but actions taken by the Trump administration have raised major red flags with those who have fought for student loan reform for years. The Trump administration has methodically dismantled effective debt relief reforms set by the Obama administration in their efforts to curtail abusive lending practices.

During the Obama administration, the student loan industry was forced to give back approximately $750 million in what was found to be abusive marketing and collection practices targeting student borrowers.

Further, the Department of Education Secretary appointed under Trump, Betsy DeVos, has been moving to eliminate Obama-era rules that penalize lenders who engage in abusive student loan debt collection practices.

One of the major changes made by the Trump administration was through the reorganization of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its student loan office. The administration argued this reorganization was routine and made no major change to the agency.

However, one of the major changes was made to the student loan debt office’s watchdog or ombudsman function. This specific office was created to address payment difficulties student loan borrowers were facing. By the time the borrowers got to the point where they were reaching out to this office, they were fielding numerous phone calls, many of them harassing and threatening, as well as lawsuits and collections cases. Other borrowers accused lenders of misleading them about any eligibility for debt relief programs, assistance that is meant to lower the borrower’s payments or have their loans forgiven.

The student loan office was key in a major lawsuit against Navient, Inc., a major student loan service provider and former division of Sallie Mae.  Navient was accused of convincing borrowers to go into expensive repayment plans without telling them of more reasonable and cost-effective options. A trial date has not yet been set, which leads many to question whether one will ever be set.

Click here to read more on this story.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

‘Zombie’ Debt Collections Plague South Florida

According to a recent study, invalid and illegal debt collections are at a record high in the Sunshine State.  The practice also referred to as ‘zombie debt collections’ is defined as attempts to collect debts not owed, those that were already paid or discharged in bankruptcy, debts owed by someone else, or are a result of identity theft. Typically, this debt collection practice is done by third-parties, who have collected these debts written off by the original creditor.

If you feel you have been a victim of zombie debt collection, first request that the debt collector provide you written documentation verifying the debt and check for any discrepancies. It is important that you respond to all court summonses to ensure that a debt collector does not win a court case by default.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission declared in a new report that Florida is the scam capital of the nation, with nearly 2.7 million consumer complaints made to the agency in 2017. The top categories included: debt collection, impostor scams, identity theft, phone and mobile, and banks and lenders.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are struggling with out of control credit card debt, 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

How do you know if it’s the IRS Contacting You?

When the IRS contacts you, their first form of communication is through the U.S. Postal Service.  The IRS will NEVER initiate contact though email, social media or text messages.

Here are some additional ways the IRS will contact tax payers. It is important to be aware of these so you do not fall victim to an IRS-related scam.

  • An IRS agent or tax compliance officer may call you after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or discuss an item for a scheduled audit;
  • Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities- but only after the taxpayer and their representative has received written notice;
  • Private debt collectors for the IRS must respect taxpayers’ rights and abide by the consumer protection provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

All payments should be made to the U.S. Treasury.  Taxpayers should never use a prepaid debit card or wire transfer to make a payment.  Specific guidelines to make tax payments can be found at irs.gov/payments.

IRS employees will NEVER:

  • Be hostile or insulting;
  • Demand payment without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount;
  • Require a specific payment method (i.e. – a prepaid debit card);
  • Threaten lawsuits, arrest or deportation for not paying;
  • Request credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

A special page on IRS.gov, “How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door,” helps taxpayers determine if a person claiming to be from the IRS is legitimate or a scammer.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in a financial crisis and considering filing for 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.

Related Resources:

http://www.examiner-enterprise.com/business/20170806/how-do-you-know-when-irs-is-contacting-you