consumer protection law

Consumer Protection Law

We fight back and sue your debt collectors!

All too often, banks and collection companies try to collect money from my clients in illegal ways.  If you are receiving harassing phone calls and letters from debt collectors, give us a call.

We will find out if that debt collector even has the right to collect any money from you at all.  If that debt collector is up to no good by trying to collect money illegally, we will sue that debt collector for you, at no cost to you at all.  In fact, a successful consumer protection lawsuit like this results in money damages for my clients, paid for by the very debt collector who were harassing my clients to begin with.

There are many ways to sue debt collectors, so contact us now for a free legal consult with a lawyer who specializes in these cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I'm receiving phone calls from an automated system to collect a debt?

We can make it stop. There is a specific law that makes this type of telephone call illegal. The use of automated dialers to contact you to collect debt is a violation of Florida Law, and will result in a money damages for you as a result of a successful lawsuit against that company. Keep a phone log of the phone calls, and contact us right away.

What do I do if I'm getting letters from debt collection companies?

These letters and notices need to be reviewed by a legal professional that specializes in this type of law. There may be multiple illegal statements in those letters, and this could result in a successful lawsuit against the company that sent the letter to you.

What if there is something wrong on my credit report?

Depending upon what is incorrectly reported on your credit report, you may have a valid case against the person or company that reported that incorrect information to your credit agency. There are very specific steps to take to have that incorrect information removed from your credit. However, if that information is still being reported after those measures, this will also open that company up to a lawsuit for illegal activity.

Collection Harassment

 

 

Are you being harassed by a debt collector? We can help.

Many of our clients have attempted to stop harassing debt collectors on their own and contacted our attorneys for help when those attempts were unsuccessful.  Navigating the debt collection industry for consumers can often be difficult and scary.  Debt collectors are required to treat you with Truth, Fairness, and Respect.

Debt collectors are prohibited from:

  • Threatening lawsuits, garnishment, liens, or arrest for not paying a bill
  • Calling your family, friends, neighbors or employers to collect a debt
  • Leaving abusive or threatening phone messages
  • Insulting, yelling or swearing at you
  • Calling your workplace after telling the collector not to call you there
  • Call you after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m.
  • Lying, threatening, or otherwise harassing you in any way
  • Repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone or ring the telephone constantly
  • Refusing repeated requests that calls stop
  • Falsely implying that they are an attorney or government representative.
  • Falsely implying that you have committed a crime by not paying a debt.
  • Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau.
  • Misrepresent the character, amount, or legal status of the debt.
  • Indicate that papers being sent are legal papers when they are not.
  • Indicate that papers being sent are not legal papers when they are.
  • Collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law.
  • Trying to collect a debt which has been previously waived, settled, or discharged in bankruptcy
  • Trying to collect a debt that is not yours

 

What can I do about old debt?

Collection agencies often purchase old unpaid or “bad debt” for mere pennies on the dollar and then attempt to collect the full value from the consumer.  Consumers may still have rights such as the ability to deny responsibility for the debt and challenging any reporting of the debt to credit bureaus past the state’s statute of limitations.

When debt collectors are attempting to collect upon an old debt they are required to provide consumers certain additional information and disclosures, such as the fact that payment or a promise to pay could restart the statute of limitations on the debt.  The debt collector is also required to inform the consumer that they cannot sue for the debt when it is beyond the statute of limitations.

 

What is considered a debt collector?

A debt collector may include anything related to consumer debt collection activity:

  • Credit card companies;
  • companies that buy up old debt for pennies on the dollar and then call to collect;
  • cell phone/cable/satellite companies;
  • auto finance companies;
  • mortgage lenders and servicers;
  • cash advance/payday loan companies;
  • doctor’s offices/hospitals;
  • apartment complexes and their management companies;
  • rent to own companies;
  • lawyers trying to collect debts; and
  • most any other type of company that is attempting to collect a consumer debt.

 

What can I do when I am contacted by a debt collector?

In order to preserve certain rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a consumer must send a written dispute within 30 days of receipt of the first notice from a debt collector.  Even if you owe the debt or cannot pay it because of financial circumstances, you still have rights pursuant to the FDCPA.

Within 5 days after you are first contacted, a debt collector must send you a written notice telling you the following:

  • The amount of the debt.
  • The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.
  • A statement that unless you, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, dispute the validity of the debt, or any portion of it, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector.
  • A statement that if you notify the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against you and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
  • A statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
  • Finally, a statement that the communication is from a debt collector attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
  • Every debt collector who tries to collect your debt must provide their own 30-day validation notice, even if a previous debt collector has already given such notice.

 

If you dispute a debt in writing within the 30 day period, a debt collector cannot continue to collect on the debt until they have sent proof of the debt or a copy of the judgment.

 

What can I do to help make my case successful?

Document every communication you have with any debt collector, whether by letter, by phone or by a message. Make detailed notes of any conversations you have with a debt collector during the conversation. Keep this log next to your phone.  SAVE every single voice mail, answering machine, collection letter, and paper message. Don’t throw anything away, including the envelopes that the collection letters come in or anything included with the collection letter.

  • Tell the debt collector to stop contacting or calling you
  • Save copies of all letters and notices from collection agencies
  • Save all phone messages and voice mails- this is very important!
  • Take screen shots or pictures of each caller ID screen showing a debt collection and/or robo-call (some call phone carriers will not reflect unanswered calls on phone bills)
  • Make note of your conversations with these bill collectors
  • Call us to help you recover your damages

 

What can I recover?

When a debt collector violates your rights you are entitled to file a lawsuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.  The FDCPA and FCCPA allow consumers to recover statutory damages of up to $1,000 and their attorneys’ fees and costs.  In addition, you may recover any actual damages including emotional distress, and possibly punitive damages depending on the severity of the harassment.

Our attorneys are members of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, they never represent the companies who are trying to collect money from you.

 

ROBOCALLS

 

What is the TCPA?

There is a very important privacy law which you may not be aware of which states that companies (including mortgage companies, telemarketers, credit card companies, medical supply companies, sales people and debt collectors) cannot use an automatic dialer to send messages, texts, or calls to your cell phone without your prior consent.  These are known are robocalls. The following conduct is prohibited:

  • Robo calls to your cell phone without your express consent
  • Robo (pre-recorded) messages and voicemails to your cell phone without your express consent
  • Sales and marketing texts sent to your cell phone without your express consent
  • Repeated hang-up calls to your cell phone

 

The key is consent, but most consumers cannot recall or unsure if they have given consent.  The law makes it clear that consumers may revoke consent at any time simply by asking the company to stop calling your cell phone. This law also applies when you are receiving calls for someone else.

What is considered a Robocall or Pre recorded voice?

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall.

Some prerecorded messages are permitted — for example, messages that are purely informational. That means you may receive calls to let you know your flight’s been cancelled, reminders about an appointment, or messages about a delayed school opening. But the business doing the calling isn’t allowed to promote the sale of any goods or services. Prerecorded messages from a business that is contacting you to collect a debt also are permitted, but messages offering to sell you services to reduce your debt are barred.

Other exceptions include political calls and calls from certain health care providers. For example, pharmacies are permitted to use prerecorded messages to provide prescription refill reminders. Prerecorded messages from banks, telephone carriers and charities also are exempt from these rules if the banks, carriers or charities make the calls themselves.

If the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal. In addition to the phone calls being illegal, their pitch most likely is a scam.

What can I do when I am contacted by a Robocaller?

Hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.

What can I do to help make my case successful?

Document every communication you have with any debt collector, whether by phone or by a message. Make detailed notes of any conversations you have with a debt collector during the conversation. Keep this log next to your phone.  SAVE every single voice mail and answering machine.

  • Tell the debt collector to stop contacting or calling you
  • Save all phone messages and voice mails- this is very important!
  • Take screen shots or pictures of each caller ID screen showing a debt collection and/or robo-call (some call phone carriers will not reflect unanswered calls on phone bills)
  • Make note of your conversations with these bill collectors
  • Call us to help you recover your damages

 

What can I recover?

Consumers are entitled to file a lawsuit against any robocaller and allows a consumer to recover statutory damages of $500 per illegal call or text, and up to $1,500 for willful violations plus court costs.

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

 

Having accurate credit reporting is invaluable and often impacts many aspects of your life such as buying a home, or ability to get a loan.  If your credit report is inaccurate, then it is important that you pursue all action necessary to correct the incorrect reporting.  You have the right to dispute the inaccurate information with the credit reporting bureaus and the creditor itself.  The bureau is then required to check with the associated company reporting the debt, correct the error and resolve the problem.  In many situations this process does correct the error, therefore it is important to get a lawyer who can help you pursue any damages that you have sustained.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides a civil remedy if you have been harmed by the incorrect information on your credit report.  The FCRA prohibits:

  • someone viewed your credit report without your permission
  • inaccurate information on your credit report
  • reporting old debts as new
  • reporting a settled debt
  • unfamiliar accounts
  • indicators of identity theft
  • someone else’s credit data on your report
  • incorrect entries by creditors / credit furnishers
  • reporting information older than seven years
  • the presence of obsolete information, old addresses, etc.
  • failing to correct any inaccurate information
  • failing to conduct an investigation of the disputed debt within 30 days
  • failing to provide the debtor with the necessary information to complete the dispute process
  • failing to report the results of the investigation to the debtor

 

What can I do to dispute inaccurate information?

Send your dispute letters to

TransUnion LLC

Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
(800) 916-8800

 

Equifax Information Services, LLC

Complaint Department
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
(888) 873-5420

 

Experian

NCAC 701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013
(800) 583-4080

 

If the investigation does not resolve your dispute, you can ask for a statement of the dispute to be included in your file. Any disputed information cannot be put back in your file without verification of its accuracy from the information provider.

 

What can I do to help make my case successful?

Keep all original records and communications with creditors, especially if there were issues with customer service, returned items, and emails where you were promised something. Keep times and dates you spoke with representatives as they often use a “recorded line” and will have records if there is a dispute in court.  An attorney will be able to request these records and having specifics goes a long way to helping a judge or mediator understand what was promised.

 

What can I recover?

 

Diliberto 5 figure settlement