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  • About David Abrams

    David Abrams is an attorney at the Law Office of David H. Abrams in Tallahassee, Florida. He studied law at City University of New York Law School. He is a native of Westmoreland, New York. His practice assists those facing foreclosure, debt collection lawsuits, or dealing with a loss of income associated with illness or injury. He also assists with issues of estate planning and guardianship. He is married to Barbara Demby Abrams. More information, including “The People’s Law Podcast" is available at http://bigbendbankruptcy.com
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    David Abrams' - You And The Law...

    Know your rights when debt collectors come calling

    By: David Abrams
    June 24, 2012

    It doesn’t take much in today’s volatile world for people find themselves short of income and falling behind on their bills.  An illness, job loss, divorce, or other unexpected event is often all it takes to push a large percentage of households over the economic edge.

    Of course, one of the first things that happens when a person for family is unable to make ends meet is they start receiving calls and letters from their creditors and debt collectors.  The daily calls and threatening letters often serve to make an already difficult and stressful situation even worse. 

    Debt collectors are often masters at the art of psychological warfare utilizing guilt, shame, and intimidation to extract money from individuals and families who are left feeling like deadbeats simply because of a lost job or other financial hardship.

    Sadly, few people are aware that they have rights when dealing with creditors and debt collectors.  Owing someone money that you can’t afford to repay is not the moral failing that a debt collector would have you believe it is. 

    Having worked with thousands of people facing financial hardship I know that the vast majority of people who receive debt collection letters and phone calls are doing everything they can to pay their debts and that few people ever incur debt with an intention of defaulting on it. 

    In Florida consumers have some strong protections against abuse and harassment from creditors and debt collectors.  The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act contains a number of important prohibitions against any person trying to collect a debt whether on behalf of themselves or another person.  In addition, Florida consumers are also protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which governs the activities of debt collectors who attempt to collect debts owed to others. 

    Both of these statutes prohibit the use of abusive or misleading activities in the course of collecting a debt.  They also prohibit things like

    • telling a debtor that they have committed a crime by not paying the debt

    • threatening to have the consumer arrested if a payment is not made

    •communicating with a consumer’s neighbors about the debt

    •calling a consumer late at night or at a time known to be inconvenient.

    A person who is dealing with a creditor or debt collector is not required by law to answer questions or even talk with the creditor or collector.

    It is perfectly legal to pick up the phone and say “I don’t want to talk” and then hang-up.  If a person is faced with a creditor or collector who keeps calling repeatedly, or who is violating the law by engaging in harassing or abusive behavior, the consumer should keep a written log of the communications and document in as much detail as possible what happened, when, and who was involved. 

    The documented information from the log can be used by an attorney to bring a lawsuit seeking money damages against the abusive creditor or debt collector.  If you believe you are being mistreated or abused by a creditor or debt collector you should contact an attorney for a more detailed examination of your rights and how you may be able to fight back against the abuse.

    Perhaps the most potent weapon a person can have against a debt collector is simply to disengage from the psychological games that are played in collection activities.  Good people often cannot pay their debts. 

    Owing someone money that you cannot afford to repay is not the same as stealing and it is not dishonest.  Maintaining a healthy perspective on the debt and on what has happened is one of the most important defenses against debt collection abuse.  I believe that debt collectors can easily detect and exploit guilt and intimidation.

    By knowing you rights, you can set up a line of defense against the abuse and harassment and focus your energies on improving your situation and overcoming whatever difficulty is currently happening in your life