Harassing Phone Calls from Creditors
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibit debt collectors from harassing consumer debtors in certain situations. Here’s how each works:
FDCPA / FCCPA. Third party debt collectors often use the telephone as their primary vehicle to harass debtors – and frequently violate the FDCPA and the FCCPA, Florida’s version of the FDCPA, in the process.
Under those laws, debt collectors are barred from:
- Calling you at work if you’ve specifically told them not to do so.
- Calling early in the morning (before 8am) or late at night (after 9 p.m.).
- Calling friends, neighbors and co-workers to tell you about your debt.
- Harassing, intimidating, lying and using obscene language during phone calls.
- Making anonymous calls or using false names.
- Calling you and threatening lawsuits, arrests or violence.
Many debtors don’t realize that they are protected from this type of harassment and can fight back. The FDCPA allows for damages in an amount up to $1,000 as well as reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees – all paid for by the abusing party. Under the FCCPA, debtors may be entitled to actual damages, statutory damages not to exceed $1,000, possible punitive damages (at the judge’s discretion), and attorneys’ fees and court costs.
TCPA. The TCPA prohibits calls using any automatic telephone dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voices to several cell phones and other places.
Unless the recipient has given express consent, the TCPA:
- Prohibits solicitors from calling residences before 8 a.m. Or after 9 p.m., local time (as referenced above).
- Requires solicitors to maintain a “do-not-call” (DNC) list of consumers who asked not to be called; the DNC request must be honored for five years.
- Requires solicitors to provide their names, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which that person or entity may be contacted.
- Prohibits solicitations to residences that use an artificial voice or a recording.
- Prohibits any call made using automated telephone equipment or an artificial or prerecorded voice to an emergency line (e.g., “911”), a hospital emergency number, a physician’s office, a hospital/health care facility/elderly room, a cellular telephone, or any service for which the recipient is charged for the call.
- Prohibits auto-dialed calls that engage two or more lines of a multi-line business.
Violations of the TCPA may result in $500 for each violation or a recovery of actual monetary losses (whichever is greater) and injured parties may also seek an injunction.
You May Be Entitled To Compensation
If you’ve been the victim of abusive and deceptive debt collection practices, you may be entitled to money under the FDCPA, the FCCPA and/or the TCPA. Find out how – contact the attorneys at Florida Debt Fighters today. We’ll help you put a stop to the harassment – once and for all.