Florida Debt Collection Laws

Any outstanding financial obligation, which is past due, unpaid, or in default owed by consumers, may lead to collections attempts by either the principal lender or an outside collections agency. At the federal level, a large body of consumer protection laws have been enacted, including The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which detail the prohibited and required actions in regards to creditors and collections agencies. As a consumer, however, federal laws and state laws per a given state jurisdiction widely vary in each specific instance. Failures to remedy debts properly, or attempting to remedy debts in an unfavourable manner, are all potentially avoidable with the guidance of an attorney.

Debt Collection in Florida

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.

Florida Statute of Limitations

  • The statue of limitations for Florida debts created through oral agreements is four (4) years
  • The statute of limitations for debt collection in Florida created through written agreements is five (5) years
  • Consumers should note, however, that failure to repay debt obligations will remain on their credit report for up to seven (7) years, but after the statute of limitations period expires, debt collectors have no legal recourse to force consumers to repay the debt

Collections Practices and Rules for Florida

The state of Florida has specific laws covering debt collections practices. These laws are in place to protect consumers from harassment, intimidation, or other damaging actions taken by debt collectors. The laws in the state of Florida mirror those established by the FTC in most cases, which include appropriate methods of contact, stopping collections attempts, and other remedies for consumers.

Legal Collections Actions

  • Legal collections actions can take the form of collection attempts made to consumers through personal visits, phone calls, emails, faxes, or letters
  • After first contact, collection agencies are required by law to send written notice to consumers about their outstanding debt obligations no later than five (5) days after initial contact

Illegal Collections Actions

Collections attempts cannot occur at an interval or frequency that can be considered harassing by a reasonable person. This would include contact before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

  • Contact by debt collectors at a consumer's place of employment is illegal if the collector is informed that the consumer's employer does not approve
  • Consumers can write a letter demanding collection agencies cease contact. Once this letter is received, debt collectors may no longer initiate collections attempts to the consumer unless to inform debtor of taking a specific action
  • Harassment, abusive language, threats, implied legal threats with no intention to carry out, implying a criminal act occurred, implying the collector is an attorney, or statements regarding garnishment of wages, liens, and other civil actions are illegal unless the debt collector has actually taken steps to do so

Laws for Debt Harassment in Florida

Harassment by debt collectors, which if deemed harassing by a reasonable person, is illegal in the state of Florida. Forwarding complaints of harassment to the attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission through an attorney will stop illegal or harassing debt collection actions.

Florida Debt Negotiation and Settlement Rules

Debt negotiation and settlement is a highly unique process specific to each consumer debt. Having an attorney oversee the settlement process is essential to obtaining any form of a favorable outcome. Concerns an attorney can address for consumers during the debt negotiation phase and during any settlement agreement include:

  • Negotiating reduced settlements from the original lending amount
  • Ensuring the legality of settlement agreements, including how the repayment of the debt will appear on credit reporting agencies information
  • Dealing with non-negotiable financial obligations, such as student loans and others, which may be possibly delayed through forbearance and hardship requests

Help from a Florida Debt Collection Attorney

Debt settlement and collection laws are complex. The legality of many debt collection agencies or debt buyers may even come under scrutiny in some cases. Having an attorney look into debt collectors making collection attempts is important. An experienced Debt Settlement Lawyer can verify the veracity of their claims, as well as determine the appropriate legal strategy for resolving outstanding debts. In many cases, debts are bought and resold several times at significantly reduced rates, which opens the door for consumers to resolve outstanding debts at highly discounted rates. Having an attorney negotiate these settlements, as well as ensuring that the agreed upon settlement and credit reporting actions are legally enforceable, is important.

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