Miami, FLConsumers who have been victims of threatening debt collection practices may want to consider calling a lawyer to deal with debt collector harassment. Even in cases where consumers owe money - and not all debt collection harassment involves creditors who are rightfully owed - there are certain actions debt collectors can and cannot take in contacting debtors, and those actions are guided by state and federal law.
The three pieces of federal legislation that govern debt collection practices are the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Together, these laws set out when and how debt collectors can contact debtors and what actions debt collectors can take against debtors.
“Often states have statutes that are more restrictive than federal statutes,” says Attorney Ben Stewart, of Stewart Law Group PLLC. “But these three pieces of federal legislation protect debtors from intrusive collection practices. They protect consumers from undue harassment and from creditors filing frivolous or baseless bad credit indicators, which lower people’s credit scores."
Among debt collection practices that are regulated by federal regulations are calls from telephones to cell phones, calling at certain times of day, repeated or threatening calls and calls to non-debtors (such as the debtor’s family or colleagues). According to Stewart, debt collectors who violate these regulations face statutory fines that range from $500 to $1,000 per occurrence. Furthermore, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers whose credit rating has been wrongfully lowered may recover based on the number of points their credit was lowered. They may also seek injunctive relief to raise their credit score back to where it should have been if not for the negligent reporting.
Having a frivolous, bad credit indicator can cause trouble for a debtor by pushing the credit rating down, affecting his or her ability to obtain credit or loans.
“I currently represent a police officer, who lived in an apartment community while saving to buy his first home,” Stewart says. “He saved enough and found a house to buy, so he went to the apartment manager and told them he was terminating his lease early. They entered a contract to terminate the lease and he paid the fee for ending the lease prematurely. On the same day he moved, they inspected his apartment and signed a form that the apartment was in good shape and he should receive his full deposit back. Sixty days later, he received a notice from a collection agency, which was hired to recover $437 for his apartment community because they claimed he failed to pay for damage to his apartment. The community told him the apartment sat unrented for 30 days and when they went in, it smelled of pet urine. He told the apartment community he didn’t have a pet and, because they signed a form saying he should receive his full deposit back, he was reported wrongfully. The apartment community refused to cancel the debt and referred him to a credit reporting agency, where his rating was lowered by 10 points in a month."
There are federal statutes designed to protect consumers from harassing or threatening behavior on the part of debt collectors, but it is up to individual consumers to invoke their rights.
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In 2006 my mortgage servicer began foreclosure proceedings against me while pretending to negotiate with me on a loan modification (this was just before the bubble burst). I filed for Bankruptcy protection in March of 2007 and the servicer filed for "Relief From Automatic Stay", however, the BK Judge ordered an Evidentiary Hearing because of issues I had raised and 3 days before the hearing the Servicer withdrew it's motion and was never heard from again.
Bank of America eventually bought the Servicer to my loan, Countrywide, and renewed foreclosure proceedings in June of 2009. I was never afforded the opportunities of a fresh start that the BK laws were designed to provide because of the continued reporting of 5 foreclosures and several court battles in a non-judicial foreclosure State, Colorado.
The outcome of all this was the realization that my original lender had dissolved its Corporation in September of 2005 without heirs or assigns and no outstanding credit issues or collections, taking several millions of dollars worth of mortgage assets into seclusion from which they have never returned.
In relation to this, Countrywide was acting without any Agency agreement with the lender when it sought foreclosure on my property in late 2006 and Bank of America had no legal interest in my note or my Deed of Trust at any time during the three and a half years that it tried to foreclose on my property, all the while destroying any chances I might have had to rebuild my credit after my 2007 bankruptcy.
The statute of limitations of 6 years has now expired on enforcement of my original prommisory note making it unenforcable and extinguishing the Deed of Trust but this has done nothing to correct the damage done to my credit history or to compensate for over seven years of constent harrasment from corporate entities who never had a legal interest in the claims they were making in the first place.
It is said that it takes money to make money, well, it is likewise true that it takes money to receive the benefit of the law because without it it is almost impossible to find competent legal representation to right these kind of wrongs. And believe me, I have not found that sort of representation and have had to defend myself pro-se over the last seven years.
However, now that I need representation to punish those who have harmed me and violated every imaginable federal and state banking and lending law you can think of I can no longer go it alone but I still can't fund a proper suit so I will be forced to accept the damage done.
The laws in this country are only as good as the money you can put behind the enforcement of those laws and for most of us who were victims of the mortgage crisis that will mean no compensation what so ever.
Good luck to all of you still trying to hang on to what you have left.
Posted by Frederick Nordhorn
I have had some medical treatment at Non-VA Hospitals under 38CFR 17.1000 (38CFR 17.1000 Thru 38 CFR 17.1008)
part of the law say (38CFR 17.1008) any payment made by the VA is payment in full (unless rejected in 30 days) and the Veteran can not be held for the remander of the bill.
I have had Debt Collectors that try to collect what the VA does not pay stating several reason (Paper i sign - see 38CFR 17.1008) have refused to remove it from my Credit report stating there still a ballance and other things like selling the bill to some other Debt Collector after finding out they cant collect
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