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Debt Collections


You may have questions relating to debt collections if you are contacted by a "debt collector," someone who regularly tries to collect debts owed to others. A debt collector may contact you if you are behind in your payments to a creditor on a personal, family or household debt, or if an error has been made in your account.

A debt collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a collector may not communicate with you or your family with such frequency as can reasonably be expected to be harassing. A debt collector may not contact you at work if the collector knows your employer disapproves. A collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree.

A debt collector is required to send you a written notice within five days after you are first contacted, telling you the amount of money you owe. The notice must also specify the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.

You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.

If you do not believe you owe the debt, you may write to the collection agency within 30 days after you are first contacted saying you don't owe the money. The agency may not contact you after that unless you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill.

A debt collector may not harass or abuse any person. For instance, a collector may not use threats of violence against the person, property or reputation, use obscene or profane language, advertise the debt, or

A debt collector may not use false statements, such as: falsely implying that they are attorneys, that you have committed a crime, or that they operate or work for a credit bureau or misrepresenting the amount of your debt, the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt, or indicating that papers sent to you are legal forms when they are not.

Debt collectors may not tell you that you will be arrested if you do not pay, that they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so and has a legal right to do so, or that a lawsuit will be filed against you, when they have no legal right to file or do not intend to file such a suit.

If you have a question about whether the collection agency which has contacted you is properly registered, you may file a complaint either with your local Attorney General's office or the Federal Trade Commission, Correspondence Branch, Washington, D.C. 20580. You may file suit against the collection agency for violating state and/or federal law. If you prevail, you may be awarded your actual damages, attorneys fees and costs.

Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office