While payday lending is legal in Florida, state law provides strict limitations. If you have a problem with a Florida payday lender, you can turn to the state for assistance. But if you obtained the loan from an out-of-state lender, over the Internet, or via phone, the help that Florida can provide might be limited.
Typically, you can get a payday loan in a store by giving the lender a postdated check, in-person by providing the lender access to your bank account, or online. The lender gives you money, and the repayment due date generally corresponds with the date of your next paycheck.
You'll have to pay interest, usually at a very high rate, and any allowed costs. The interest amount is often called a fee. Most consumer advocates warn against using payday lenders because the interest and fees are exorbitant.
If you find yourself in a bad spot and have no other choice than to take out a payday loan in Florida, it's a good idea to make sure that you're dealing with a licensed lender. Payday lenders licensed in Florida must comply with the state laws and respond to inquiries by the Office of Financial Regulation to maintain their license.
If you have a problem with a payday lender, you can file a complaint with the state and request assistance. But if the lender isn't licensed in Florida and is operating from another state or country through the Internet or phone, there might be little the state can do.
Under Florida law, payday lenders are called "deferred presentment providers." (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.402 and following). Payday lending is limited in several ways. The law places limits on
In Florida, payday advances can't exceed $500—no exceptions. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.404).
You can only have one outstanding payday loan at a time. Loans are tracked through a central database. When you pay the loan back, you have to wait out a 24-hour cooling-off period before you can take out another payday loan. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.404).
Payday loans can't be for less than seven days or more than 31 days. Rollovers are also prohibited. ("Rolling the loan over" means you pay a fee to delay paying back the debt.) For example, if you take out a 14-day payday loan, the lender isn't permitted to roll the loan over, charging the fees again, for an additional 14 days—even though the entire length of time would be less than 31 days. The term is set when you take out the loan. But if you're unable to pay, you can extend the loan term without additional charges or interest. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.404).
If you can't pay the loan in full at the end of the loan term, the lender has to provide a 60-day grace period without additional charge. The grace period is dependent upon you making an appointment with a Consumer Credit Counseling Service within seven days and completing the counseling within the 60-day grace period. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.404).
Florida law limits the fees that the lender can charge on a payday loan to 10% of the loan amount, plus a $5 verification fee. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.404, § 560.309(8)).
If a check you provided to the payday loan lender doesn't clear the bank, and you're not able to pay, the lender is limited in what it can do. The payday lender may not pursue criminal action against you for a bad check. They can demand payment, but costs are limited to the 10% fee, the $5, and any bad-check fees that the lender's bank imposed (if you didn't inform the lender in advance that the check couldn't be honored). The lender can't charge additional costs unless it files a lawsuit, and a court imposes additional costs. The lender may seek to recover interest on its judgment, but is limited to the state's judgment rate generally and not a rate based on the payday loan fee. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.404, § 560.406).
Florida law requires that the payday loan agreement be in writing and signed by both parties on the date the loan is given. The loan agreement must contain:
The agreement can't legally contain terms whereby the borrower agrees to hold the lender harmless for any damages or actions, waives any rights under the law, agrees in advance to the entry of a judgment or wage garnishment, or waives any defenses to repayment. The fees allowed under the law may not be collected in advance, and the lender can't require any additional security or guarantors. Lastly, the lender has to provide a copy of the signed agreement to the borrower at the time of the transaction. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 560.404).
Again, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation's Division of Consumer Finance regulates payday lenders in the state. You can verify a license or file a complaint on their website or call 850-487-9687 if you have additional questions.
To get an explanation about applicable payday loan laws in Florida relevant to your situation, consider contacting a debt relief lawyer or a consumer protection lawyer.