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Debt Collectors Cannot Collect Debt in Any Way They Desire

 

Debt collectors use a variety of methods to reach debtors, including postal mail, pre-recorded calls to cell phones, and even via Facebook messages.  However, as recently re-affirmed by a Federal Judge in a case won by Leavengood, Dauval and Boyle, P.A., debt collectors do not have the right to collect debt in any way they desire. 

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) provides safeguards to consumers and debtors by prohibiting certain abusive debt collection conduct and by outlining the rights of consumers.  For example, on every single debt collection call, a debt collector must inform a consumer that it is a debt collector and is attempting to collect a debt.  Another section of the FDCPA provides, however, that a debt collector may not communicate with any third party regarding a debt without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector.  

Hobson’s Choice

Hobson's Choice

These two sections of the FDCPA, when considered together, create what is often called a “Hobson’s choice” for debt collectors. A “Hobson’s choice” is a term-of-art used to describe a situation wherein there is a false illusion of choice.  In the current example, a debt collector faces a Hobson’s choice between these two sections of the FDCPA when it leaves a consumer a voicemail or leaves a message with a consumer’s co-worker.  On the one hand, the FDCPA requires that the debt collector state that it is a debt collector attempting to collect a debt.  On the other hand, The FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from telling a third party that it is a debt collector attempting to collect a debt.  Thus the Hobson’s choice…debt collectors argue that, in order to leave a message for a consumer, the debt collector must violate one section of the FDCPA in order to comply with another.  In other words, debt collectors argue that when speaking to a person other than the consumer, they have no choice but to violate the law.  However, this argument is not well taken by the Courts.  The FDCPA was specifically enacted to protect consumers’ privacy and to prevent this sort of conduct, as such collection practices result in serious invasions of privacy.   

If you have received voicemail messages from a debt collector, or if a debt collector has left you a message with a co-worker at work on a “While You Were Out” slip, please contact us.  At Leavengood, Dauval & Boyle, P.A., we are passionate about vindicating the rights of consumers and protecting their privacy.  If you have endured such harassing conduct, you may be entitled to damages and the offending debt collector may have to pay our attorney’s fees and costs.

Leavengood, Dauval & Boyle, P.A.: New On-Line Consumer Protection Center

 


Consumer Protection CenterTo assist our clients and prospective clients with the problems associated with debt collection, Leavengood, Dauval & Boyle, P.A. introduces its new Consumer Protection Center that provides information surrounding what is allowed and not allowed when creditors and debt collectors are collecting consumer debts.  Typically, of late debt collections problems that arise for consumers are in part focused are: 

  1. Auto-dialed debt collection calls to your cell phone
  2. Debt collection calls to a consumer's place of employment
  3. Debt collection calls after a consumer is represented by an attorney 
  4. Periodic Billing Statements & Collection Letters after you have hired an attorney
  5. Debt collection calls on debts that have been discharged

Auto-Dialed Calls

Harassment is stressful enough -- so too is having problems with money.  To make matters worse, most creditors and debt collectors use an automatic telephone dialing system to continually, repeatedly and mindlessly call you until they get through.  If they auto-dial your cell phone, however, and you have either told the creditor or debt collector that you have an attorney or told them to stop calling you, you could be entitled to up to $1,500.00 per call.  To learn more about the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, please visit our website for more details.

Place of Employment Calls 

The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act and the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act great limits -- if not altogether eliminates -- a creditor's or debt collector's ability to contact your employer or place of employment in their attempts to collect a consumer debt.  For more information on work that the attorneys at Leavengood, Dauval & Boyle, P.A. have recently done to protect consumer rights in the workplace, please read this Counsel for Life Article.

Periodic Billing Statement & Collection Letters

Creditors will frequently state that they are required by the Federal Truth in Lending Act to send periodic billing statements to consumers even after that consumer has asked them to stop contacting them to collect the debt, or after the debtor has told the creditor that they are represented by an attorney regarding that credit card debt.  Credit card companies are not required to keep sending these statements.  Instead, they send these statements with language that requests -- if not demands -- payment from consumers.  If your periodic billing statement tells you that you are "Past Due" or threatens adverse credit reporting for continued not payments, these statements are not required by TILA.  Instead, they are attempts to collect debt.  To learn more about your rights, damages that you may be entitled to and how you can fight back, please visit our website to learn more.  

Zombie Debts 

For individuals that have had to endure filing a bankruptcy to try and get a fresh start, the last thing they need is to then endure debt collectors and creditors continuing to try and collect on what should be a discharged or "zombie" debt.  If you have getting calls on a debt that you included in your bankruptcy, do not waste any time, contact us today to end the harassment and recover money damages for you!