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Florida consumers should know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to create new guidelines that will place restrictions on the actions of debt collectors. While a representative for the CFPB states that collection is an important part of maintaining credit markets, he also acknowledges that there are a number of frustrating practices frequently used by collection agencies. Some of the most common include harassing phone calls, failure to verify that a debt is owed and people only finding out about outstanding debts through a credit report.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was established in 1977 to help protect consumers from overly aggressive collection agency tactics, but it has failed to keep up with recent innovations such as the Internet and auto-dialers. The act is also insufficient to protect people from agencies that purchase debts and are only given a spreadsheet with the names of people and their debts, which often lead to cases involving generic testimony or lack of proof.

Before proposing new rules for an industry that is widely believed to be lacking sufficient oversight, the bureau is looking for information from consumers in Florida and throughout the nation. Questions being asked include if people are experiencing creditor harassment, if collectors are providing accurate information about debts owed and if individuals are being taken to court over debt that they do not owe.

Even if an individual legitimately owes a debt, there are a number of rules already in place for when and how debt collectors can contact someone about their debt. It is also a requirement of the law that collection agencies provide accurate information about an individual’s debt if they request it. Should a collection agency fail to meet these regulations, legal recourse may be an option.

Source: The Washington Post, “Debt collectors face new rules under proposal from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau“, Danielle Douglas, November 05, 2013