Your Rights Under The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
In several recent cases, most notably 2017’s Midland Funding vs. Johnson, the Supreme Court has diluted some parts of the FDCPA. However, for the most part, the rights consumers have under this Act are still the same. These rights are especially important to job injury victims in Florida. Technically, medical providers cannot contact job injury victims under any circumstances, since workers’ compensation pays all reasonably necessary medical bills.
However, a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney still must get involved in these situations, at least in many cases. Fundamentally, insurance companies make money when they collect premiums and lose money when they pay claims. No company likes losing money, so no workers’ compensation insurance company likes paying claims. A Tampa fair debt attorney fights for all the benefits you deserve. That includes both medical bill payment and lost wage replacement benefits.
Required FDCPA Conduct
If a debt collector fails to follow the rules, the debt collector is liable for actual damages plus a $1,000 penalty in state or federal court. The $1,000 penalty is available even if the violation was only a technicality and the plaintiff suffered no actual damages. Some major FDCPA requirements include:
- Identification: Any oral or written communication must include a disclaimer that the communication came from a debt collector and any information obtained will be used for that purpose. Additionally, in terms of phone calls, Florida is a dual-party consent state. A participant must have the consent of both participants to record the conversation.
- Written Verification: This rule might be the most important one, because in many cases, written verification is unavailable. That’s especially true if the debt is an old one. This verification must include the company’s legal name and trade name, the amount owed, and the original creditor’s address. The company must provide written verification within thirty days.
- Venue Issues: Creditors cannot file collections lawsuits wherever they please. Instead, they must file legal actions in the county where the debtor currently resides or in the county where the original contract was signed or where the debt was incurred. However, individuals may usually file wrongful FDCPA conduct lawsuits in any county in the state.
It is a defense to FDCPA misconduct if the violation (or violations) was unintentional and resulted from a “bona fide error” that occurred even though the company had procedures in place designed to avoid the error at issue.
These violations are much more common. Most debt collectors are debt buyers. Since they paid money upfront to buy the debt, they’re willing to bend the rules to collect it. These rules include:
- Contacting a debtor by phone before 8:00 a.m., after 9:00 p.m., or at any other time the customer designates,
- Company’s failure to cease communication upon request,
- Repeated calls that are intended to harass or annoy the debtor,
- Work calls, if the company has been advised not to call the debtor at work,
- Any contact within the aforementioned thirty-day verification window,
- Misrepresentation of identity,
- Communication with third parties for any purpose other than to establish the debtor’s location, and
- Publishing the debtor’s name on a “naughty list.”
The same bona fide error defense discussed above could apply to prohibited conduct. The company has the burden of proof on all elements of this defense.
Connect With an Experienced 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. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.