Board Certified in Real Estate Law by The Florida Bar
Rated for Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters
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James Martin AV Preeminent 2022

Stop The Debt Collector Of The Dead

James W. Martin

The NY Times reported (You’re Dead? That Won’t Stop the Debt Collector) on 3/3/09 how a certain debt collector collects from grieving families the debts owed by the deceased even though the family members are not legally obligated to pay. I don’t know about other states, but debt collectors should think twice before calling a decedent’s family member in Florida. Florida Statutes Section 559.72 makes it illegal to “willfully engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to abuse or harass the debtor or any member of her or his family.” The comments posted to the NY Times article suggest that calling a family member to seek payment of their deceased’s debt, for which the family member has no legal obligation to pay, is abusive. And the Florida law has teeth: up to $500,000 for statutory damages in a class action suit. Plus, the debt collector could lose its license to collect debts in Florida altogether. So, here’s a message to all debt collection companies on behalf of all Florida family members: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Debt collectors need to be careful when contacting decedent’s family members in Florida.

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