In Florida, countless home owners are facing the lose of their home to foreclosure because they can’t continue to make their mortgage payments due to lost jobs, medical expenses, and other life events. Other home owners have mortgages that are much, much larger than the fair market value of their homes and they are wondering about the wisdom of defaulting on their loans.
For any Florida home owner with a mortgage dilemma, there will be big decisions to make: whether to short sale, whether to strategically default, whether to try a loan modification, and what to do about any resulting deficiency judgment. These decisions will hang over the Florida home owner’s head for months and months – if not years and years – but the thing that most Florida home owners may not realize is the minute that lose their home at a foreclosure sale (and, in some instances, after a short sale), they will be facing loan collection efforts.
10 Things Florida Home Owners Should Know About Mortgage Debt Collectors
Federal law (15 USC Section 1692) and Florida law (Florida Statutes 559.55 et seq) exist to protect Florida home owners who are behind on their mortgage payments, specifically to protect Florida mortgage holders from the bad acts of debt collection agencies and even attorneys hired by banks to act in the role of a debt collector. Here are several things that Florida mortgage home owners should know about their situation:
1. In Florida, a mortgage debt collector cannot contact you on a whim. The law prohibits the mortgage collection from calling your before 8 am or after 9 pm. Mortgage collectors cannot call you at work once you tell them not to do so.
2. Mortgage collectors cannot threaten you with use threats of violence or harm.
3. Mortgage debt collectors cannot use profanity in their communications with you.
4. Mortgage debt collectors cannot claim that they are lawyers.
5. Mortgage debt collectors cannot tell you that they work for one of the credit record companies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion). Credit reporting companies are not in the business of debt collection.
6. Mortgage debt collectors cannot state or imply that they are sending you legal documents if they aren’t really about to do so.
7. Mortgage debt collectors cannot state or imply that you have committed a crime because you haven’t paid your mortgage.
8. Mortgage debt collectors cannot state or imply that your wages will be garnished or your property seized, unless the bank has obtained the legal right to do so and is about to exercise that right.
9. Mortgage debt collectors cannot state or imply that you are about to be sued unless the bank is indeed about to file a foreclosure action or a deficiency lawsuit.
10. Mortgage debt collectors send you any document that appears to be a court filing or an official government document – they cannot send you phony paper, only legitimate documentation.
Mortgage debt collectors can only contact your Florida foreclosure defense attorney or short sale lawyer if you have hired a lawyer to represent you in any collection matter. If you have a lawyer, the law requires the mortgage collector call your lawyer, not you. Your Florida mortgage attorney can work with the lender and the lender’s debt collector on your behalf, arguing your defenses to the debt itself, as well as negotiating the mortgage debt, the short sale, and the deficiency.
Furthermore, your Florida real estate lawyer can fight against unfair mortgage debt collection efforts on your behalf, including filing suit against the collection agency, filing complaints with the appropriate agencies for unfair collection practices, and dealing with the lender on the actions of their collection agent.
For example, after a Florida short sale, if a deficiency amount remains on the mortgage, then the bank may start collection efforts on that amount, together with interest on that amount (usually at the rate of 18% per year (default rate)). However, a Florida short sale lawyer may be able to find legal defenses to these collection efforts, based upon the bank’s own actions (or failures to act) including Statute of Limitation defenses pertaining to the debt and the inability of the bank to prove up the legal validity of the mortgage debt.
Having a Florida lawyer on your side when you are facing foreclosure, trying to get a short sale of your home, or wanting to renegotiate a home mortgage loan is always helpful – but what many Florida home owners do not realize is that having a lawyer on your side as soon as possible can lessen the daily stress of the situation, such as having the attorney take on the burden of dealing with the bill collectors.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 458-8655.