Have you received a phone call from someone claiming you owe money for an unpaid debt? Have you been threatened with arrest if you don't pay up? The Lee County Sheriff's Office warns you to beware of calls from unscrupulous collectors and unsavory scammers who try to lie, harass or intimidate their way into your wallet.
The following tips can help you recognize debt collection abuse:
- A debt collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax.
- A debt collector may not contact you at unreasonable times, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree.
- A debt collector may not call you repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass you.
- A debt collector may not call you at work if they know your employer does not approve.
- A debt collector is allowed to contact any person one time for the purpose of correcting or confirming your contact information; however, he may not identify himself as a debt collector or tell the person you owe a debt.
- A debt collector is required to send you a written notice within five days after you are first contacted, telling you the name of the creditor to whom you owe money, how much you owe, and what you should do if you believe you do not owe the money.
Debt collectors violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when they:
- Threaten to have you arrested.
- Threaten to take your protected income or file a lawsuit against you.
- Threaten to cause physical injury.
- Use obscene or profane language.
- Pretend to work for a government agency.
To report FDCPA violators, contact the Florida Office of Financial Regulation at: www.flofr.com or the Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov. You can also call the Sheriff's Office Fraud Line at 477-1242 or visit the Florida Office of the Attorney General at: www.myfloridalegal.com.
Never give your personal information such as credit card or bank account number to someone you don't know in an effort to settle your debt.