Debt is a growing problem for millions of Americans. Large percentages of individuals’ budgets are consumed with paying off personal debt, usually from over-charging their credit cards, or paying off the mortgage on the house. While individuals in debt (aka, debtors) are required to pay off the money they owe, they are nonetheless afforded protection in federal and state statutes. A federal bill known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides a number of important protections for debtors from debt collection agencies. Unlike many other states, Louisiana’s regulations on debt collection do adhere to FDCPA in certain instances.
In the state of Florida, the Office of the Attorney General of Florida is charged with enforcing the laws and statutes related to the regulation of debt collection practices. In the state of Florida, a debt collector is defined as simply any person involved in regularly attempting to collect debts owed by consumers. The laws regarding debt collection in the state of Florida mirror those regulated by the Federal Trade Commission in most cases.
Debt collection statute of limitations laws in Louisiana reflect the period of time that a debt collector has a legally enforceable right to collect on a given debt. For all legal purposes, once a statute of limitations period has expired, debt collectors no longer have a legally enforceable claim to pursue in the courts, if they wish to collect a judgment award. Some of the relevant statutes of limitations in Louisiana include:
The state of Louisiana’s laws regarding debt collection practices and prohibited practices can be found in the civil statutes of Louisiana’s legal code, section 9:3562. These laws, which generally outline prohibited collections actions in sub-section ten (10), inform consumers of their rights when dealing with debt collection agents.
Harassment by debt collectors in the state of Louisiana is prohibited. Violations of anti-harassment laws may result in both federal and state court cases being filed by consumers against debt collection agencies. For instance, if a debt collector contacts a debtor, the latter may tell the former to stop contacting them. In such an instance, the creditor or their representative may only contact the debtor once per month, reminding them of their debt obligation. Furthermore, when the initial contact is made by the debt collecting agent, it must be between the hours of 8:00am-9:00pm, local time. In addition, if the agent knows the debtor’s employer does not allow personal phone calls, he/she may not call the debtor during business hours.
Any other forms of harassment, such as abusive language, illegal publishing of a debt, or other prohibited actions should be reviewed by an attorney on behalf of an individual debtor to see if legal action is possible.
Debt negotiation and settlement is more open ended than the actual collections process. However, there are still legal intricacies that an attorney can assist debtors with in light of the rules and regulations of the FDCPA. Other times, Louisiana’s regulations differ somewhat from FDCPA. For example, the creditor, or the debt collection agency representing him/her may contact certain persons without the debtor’s consent:
Furthermore, Louisiana law stipulates that if the creditor or the debt collection agent violates any part therein, the debtor may in fact be entitled to a full refund, attorney’s fees, and possibly up to three times his/her debt.
These laws are in place to protect citizens from fraud and abuse that often is associated—fairly and unfairly—with debt collections. However, they are complex, and oftentimes, debt collection agencies can use illegal intimidation methods to try to get the creditor’s money back. The law forbids such practices, and an experienced attorney who specializes in debt collection issues to protect their clients. In addition, once an attorney takes an alleged debtor’s case, the creditor or the debt collection agent must cease and desist from contacting the debtor. Finally, the attorney will give their client peace of mind, and help them to negotiate a monthly payment plan that they can afford, and will satisfy the creditor.