Now that debt collectors are back and moratoriums are falling away, this is a good opportunity to remind Florida consumers about limitations that bind debt collectors. Basically, things they may do or say that could get them into trouble, and give you recourse to sue or settle or more favorable terms. So what do we look for?
- Misleading letters regarding payment options, statute of limitations, or credit reporting.
- Letters lacking required disclosures or misleading about dispute process.
- Letters failing to give a firm payoff amount on a mortgage.
- Out of state unlicensed debt collector or unlicensed practice of law.
For example, in Gause v. Medical Billing Consultants, a debt collector sent a letter that stated “If you feel that this is not a valid debt CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY AT (727) 538-2252. If you fail to contact us we will have no choice but to assume that this is a VALID and JUST DEBT.” The letter also threatened to report to credit bureaus bi-weekly, but that does not actually happen.
So what’s wrong with that letter? Well, it implies urgency, to contact them immediately – when in reality you have 30 days to dispute a debt. Debt collectors love to make everything sound urgent — that a process server is on the way, a case is being filed now and here is a case number XX89898.
And the disclaimers you may see, well they don’t mean anything if they are overshadowed. Small print, page 4 of 5, while DUE NOW is in capital letters, bolded etc.
If you believe that a debt collector is doing or saying something that may be a violation of our consumer laws, please reach out to us for a free review.