Top Three Fair Debt Collection Violations
In recent years, the Supreme Court has repeatedly watered down the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. These rollbacks have empowered debt collectors, including medical providers, to push the envelope and be even more aggressive. That’s especially true of the most common fair debt collection violations, which are discussed below.
Despite the Supreme Court’s spate of pro-business decisions, the legal protections in the FDCPA, as well as Florida’s version of this law, remain in place. But hospitals and other creditors will cross the line unless an assertive Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer stops them. Job injury victims have more than enough on their plate. They shouldn’t have to deal with illegal debt collection tactics in addition to everything else.
Harassing, Excessive, and/or Abusive Phone Calls
Federal and state laws allow creditors to call debtors only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Additionally, if debtors specify a different time window, the creditor must respect that designation. Creditors must also respect a designation of alternative hours, as long as the preferred contact window is about eleven hours long.
“Excessive” basically means “more than one.” If a creditor calls more than once during a designated time window, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer should at least review your case.
“Abusive” is usually subjective. Any language the debtor considers abusive is illegal. Courts usually keep creditors on a shorter leash in this area than the excessive phone call area.
Misrepresentations and Threatening Illegal Actions
Unscrupulous creditors pretend to be law enforcement officers. These imitations usually include illegal threats, like putting the debtor in jail or issuing an arrest warrant. These actions are legal in many countries, but they are illegal in the United States. Furthermore, debt collectors are not lawyers, at least in most cases.
Illegal medical debt collection is a very common kind of misrepresentation in Florida. These illegal activities usually involve the difference between the insurance coverage amount and the private pay amount.
Assume Tina falls and hits her head at work. Her doctor orders an MRI. The insurance discount cost is $500 and the private pay cost is $2,500. The clinic bills Tina’s workers’ compensation insurance provider $500 and sends a bill to her for the remaining $2,000.
These bills are illegal. Under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, injured workers are not financially responsible for any unpaid medical costs. If the clinic wants more money for the MRI, that dispute is between the clinic and insurance company.
Disclosing Debt to Third Parties
A debt collector may contact your employer, family members, and credit references you provided if they have not been able to speak with you and are looking for you.
However, they cannot disclose information about your debt to these third parties. The only people with whom the debt collector can discuss the debt are:
- Your attorney or legal representative,
- The creditor and the creditor’s attorney,
- The credit bureaus, and
- A co-signer to the obligation.
Otherwise, the debt collector can only inquire if the person on the other end of the line knows you and how to contact you.
Connect with a Tough-Minded Hillsborough County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.