Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act

The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act prohibits both debt collectors and creditors from using deceptive and abusive tactics in collecting debts.

Related Ads

Need Professional Help? Talk to a Lawyer

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

searchbox small

The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (CCPA) prohibits both debt collectors and creditors from using certain types of abusive, deceptive, and misleading debt collection tactics. The CCPA supplements the protections provided by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Read on to learn what Florida's consumer laws prohibit, who is covered by the laws, and what you can do if your rights are violated under these laws.

The FDCPA

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that sets limits on what bill collectors can do in attempting to get you to pay a debt. The FDCPA prevents debt collectors from talking to third parties about your debt, calling you at work, and engaging in other tactics designed to harass, abuse, or mislead you into paying a debt.

The FDCPA only applies to debt collectors and third party debt buyers—it does not cover collection activities performed by an original creditor. (To learn more about the FDCPA, see Nolo's Illegal Debt Collection Practicestopic area.)

Florida's Laws Governing Debt Collection

Florida has enacted additional laws that supplement the FDCPA, and may provide you with even greater protection than the FDCPA if you live in this state.

Florida's Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) protects you from abusive debt collection practices. Like the FDCPA, the Florida CCPA covers debt collectors. However, unlike the FDCPA, it also covers original creditors.

Debt Buyers Are Subject to the FCCPA

In some states, if a creditor sells or transfers your debt to another person(called an “assignment), that debt buyer cannot then sue you for that debt. However, Florida allows for the collection of assigned debt. If your original creditor assigned your debt to another person or entity, then the new debt owner can collect that debt from you. The debt buyer must give you at least thirty days notice of the assignment before it can attempt to collect it from you.

Of course, it is still subject to the FCCPA and FDCPA, including rules prohibiting collection on old debts. (For more information about limitations on collecting old debt, read Nolo's Debt Scavengers and Zombie Debt)

Prohibited Collection Practices in Florida

The FCCPA prohibits creditors and debt collectors from engaging in abusive, harassing, unfair, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading practices. Some things that creditors and debt collectors cannot do under the FCCPA include:

  • pretending to be a police officer and acting on behalf of a government agency

  • using or threatening to use force or violence

  • communicating , or threatening to communicate, with your employer about the debt, unless they have taken a judgment against you

  • if you have disputed the debt, reporting, or threatening to report, derogatory information about a disputed debt to a credit reporting agency without also disclosing the existence of your dispute

  • contacting third parties about your debt

  • harrassing you or your family about the debt

  • contact you between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. without your permission

  • holding themselves out as attorneys, or misrepresenting to you that an attorney is involved (this is also a potential violation of the FDCPA)

  • filing a lawsuit against you in the wrong venue (suing you in a distant court to make it difficult for you to defend the lawsuit)

  • sending you communications, such as forms and “summons” designed to look like attorney letters or government documents

  • using obscene, profane, vulgar, or abusive language when communicating with you or your family

  • threatening or attempting to enforce an illegitimate debt against you, such as a debt that has expired under the statute of limitations

  • knowingly hiring an unlicensed CCA to collect a debt

  • mailing you documents that contain embarrassing words or phrases on a postcard or envelope, and

  • communicating directly with you when they know you are represented by an attorney.

If A Debt Collector or Creditor Violates the FCCPA

You have a private cause of action if a creditor or debt collector harms you in violation of the FCCPA. This means that you can file a lawsuit in Florida against the collector or creditor. If you win, the court may award to you:

  • actual damages
  • statutory damages not to exceed $1,000
  • possible punitive damages (at the judge's discretion), and

  • attorney’s fees and court costs

You can also file a complaint with Florida's Office of Financial Regulation.

If a debt collector (but not a creditor) uses abusive or deceptive collection behavior, you may also be able to sue under the federal FDCPA. For more information, visit Nolo's Illegal Debt Collection Practices topic area.

Registration Requirements for Debt Collectors

The FCCPA requires all debt collectors, including those located out-of-state, to be registered with the State of Florida. Only debt collectors are required to register. Those who are exempt from registration include:

  • original creditors

  • attorneys

  • banks and other financial institutions, and

  • real estate and insurance professionals.

Remedies for Failing To Register

An unregistered debt collector may be subject to administration fines of up to $10,000, plus attorney's fees and cost. However, you do not have the right to sue a collection agency for failing to register. Only Florida's Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services Commission (the “Office”) has the authority to assess fines and enforce the registration requirements. The Florida's attorney general can then file a lawsuit against that debt collector.

For More Information

For more details on what the FCCPA does and does not cover, you can read the Florida Consumer Collection Practices laws, §559.55 to 559.785. To learn how to find state statutes, visit Nolo’s Legal Research Center.

You can also find more information on Florida's Consumer website at: www.flofr.com/StaticPages/ConsumerKnowledgeCenter.htm.

Get Professional Help

Find a bankruptcy or debt settlement lawyer.
HOW IT WORKS
how it works 1
Tell us about your case
how it works 2
Get matched with local lawyers
how it works 1
Connect with your lawyers
LA-NOLO5:DRU.1.6.5.20141029.29183