FLORIDA COURT AWARDS $1 MILLION TO COUPLE RECEIVING HARASSING PHONE CALLS
Anyone that has ever fallen behind on a debt, knows that what usually follows are harassing phone calls, a lot of them, from the creditor or a collection agency on their behalf attempting to obtain payment of the debt. There’s a fine line between taking reasonable efforts to collect a debt and engaging in harassment. Consumer protection laws, like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and others, seek to ensure that creditors don’t cross the line.
Bank of America in Trouble for Mortgage Loan Collection Harassing Phone Calls
Unfortunately, even with laws in place, not all lenders comply. One couple, the Coniglio’s fell behind on their mortgage loan payments to Bank of America and they began receiving harassing phone calls, sometimes as frequently as five times per day, totaling over 700 calls in a four year period. They also received written letters attempting to collect the debt, the information contained in the letters was often false and/or misleading.
Seeking peace, quiet, and privacy, the Coniglio’s hired an attorney and informed the bank that they had. The calls continued and the couple eventually filed a lawsuit…and they won. They were recently awarded a judgment of $1,051,000. Interestingly, the judgment was a “default judgment,” entered because Bank of America did not timely respond to the lawsuit. Bank of America sought to have the judgment overturned for “good cause,” but the court denied the request finding there was no such good cause and if the case proceeded Bank of America was likely to lose.
In a statement to ABC News, Bank of America attempted to defend itself by stating that the reason for its 700 calls to the Coniglio’s was “not to collect a debt, but rather to help them avoid foreclosure after they fell behind on their mortgage payments.” The company went on to attempt to justify the volume of calls, “Because our calls were not answered and our efforts to help the Coniglios avoid foreclosure were urgent, these calls continued.”
Best Practices for Dealing with Harassing Phone Calls from Mortgage Lenders
There is no excuse for the harassment conducted by Bank of America, or other lenders that engage in similar practices. If you receive harassing phone calls from your lender or a debt collector related to your home loan, this is a sign that a foreclosure action may be coming your way. We strongly recommend that you contact an experienced Florida foreclosure attorney immediately. A Florida foreclosure defense attorney can help end the calls and determine whether there are steps that can be taken immediately to avoid foreclosure. As we’ve noted in prior blogs, the best defense to a foreclosure action is avoiding it altogether.
As the Coniglio’s story demonstrates, there is often an overlap between the laws related to mortgage foreclosures and consumer protection laws. Understanding and keeping up to date on both, allows the Jacksonville foreclosure defense attorneys at Adam Law Group to effectively assist you in defending your foreclosure case.