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For Florida residents who are currently behind in their bills and feel they are being harassed by pesky debt collectors, help is on the way. A relatively new government agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), formed in 2011 has begun targeting debt collections in an effort to protect consumers from unfair tactics.

The CFPB, charged with overseeing financial products and services, has recently provided consumers with a new set of tools to help the effort. The agency has also formally warned debt collectors to avoid intentionally misleading consumers, and the bureau has begun a new practice of accepting complaints. The stated goal of this procedure is to have complaints resolved within a period of 60 days. The new tools consist of a series of template letters. The templates come with instructions and are aimed at stopping all communication from the collector. The bureau informs consumers that they have the right to tell debt collectors to stop contacting them altogether. They warn that the act of stopping the collector contact will not nullify the debt; it may however, put an end to the real or perceived harassment.

The CFPB also recommends that consumers: never agree to pay a debt without written proof of its validity, never reveal personal information such as bank accounts or employment, never be tricked into believing the debt collector is a friend and always maintain accurate records of each contact with the collector.

For Florida residents who are possibly being sued by a collection agency or dealing with wage garnishment issues, consultation with an experienced attorney may be of substantial help. With the personal objective of helping a someone regain their financial footing, an attorney may be able to help put that person’s finances back in order. A lawyer could also explain if filing for bankruptcy or another option may be the best solution.

Source:  U.S.News & World Report LP, “What to Say to Pesky Debt Collectors“, Kimberly Palmer , July 17, 2013