Collecting Debt? Don’t Get Sued
If you are a company that lends credit or money to consumers, or which performs services for consumers and then collects on the money later, you may find yourself in the business of collecting debt from those consumers.
The difficult thing is that we go into business to work in our chosen fields—not to collect debt. Yet, for many businesses, debt collection is a vital part of a business, and making sure that outstanding debts, balances and invoices, get paid, is essential to keeping your business’ doors open.
Things are a little easier if businesses owe your business money, but when consumers owe you money, you need to be very careful, as there are strict laws that apply to how you can collect debts against consumers in the state of Florida.
Professional Conduct and Threats
The first rule is the most obvious: keep it professional. You can be sued for insults, derogatory comments, or demeaning comments that you make towards your customers.
Never ever make threats to do things you can’t legally do. Many businesses make this mistake innocently—they simply don’t know what they can and cannot do. When businesses tell consumers who owe them money “if you don’t pay, we will take your home,” or “bankruptcy won’t help you avoid this debt,” they may truly believe these statements—but they are not legally true, and they can get you into trouble just for saying them.
Never threaten to tell anybody about the debt; in almost every case, a consumer’s debt, balance, or financial obligation that it may owe you, is totally and completely private. That means that when you threaten to “tell your boss,” you are threatening to do something that you cannot legally do.
The law prohibits you from contacting the consumer about the debt in any manner, or to any extent that can reasonably be expected to be harassing. There is no further definition of this, and there is no hard and fast rule as to how many collection calls you can make.
Use your common sense; calling once a day may be sufficient; more than that and you may run afoul of the law. Calling at 3am would surely be seen as harassing, even if you do it only once.
Don’t Fake Your ID
Never pretend you are a court, law enforcement, or an attorney if you are not, or suggest that a lawsuit has been filed if it has not been. Don’t even suggest you’re calling from a law firm, if you are not.
These are just some of the things the law prohibits, that can get you in trouble. Consumers that owe you money, may have the right to sue you, for violating these rules under the Consumer Collection Practices Act. They even potentially can get their attorneys fees. The last thing you want to do is end up having to pay a consumer money that owes you money.
Call our Fort Lauderdale business law lawyers at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954-440-3993 today for help collecting debt that others may owe you.