No one should have to tolerate harassment from a debt collector or creditor when having trouble paying bills. Florida residents who have fallen victim to unfair debt collection practices should be aware of their rights as consumers. Stringent Federal and State laws have been established to specifically prohibit unjust, abusive, or harassing debt collection activities.
The federal government has enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to prevent collection agency abuse. Protection from creditor harassment does not have to end there. Consumers in particular states can turn to the laws of their own state for additional protection. For instance, Florida is a state that has enacted legislation to protect consumers that covers debt collection agencies and creditors, also known as the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA).
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 1978, is a United States statute added as Title VIII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The purpose of the Act is to abolish abusive activity in the collection of debts, to encourage fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with the opportunity to dispute and receive validation of debt information in order to ensure the information is completely accurate. The Act establishes guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct proper business, defines the rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and determines penalties and resolutions regarding violations of the Act.
In recent years, the FDCPA has received an increasing amount of attention with the struggling economy and the consequential explosion of a new legal practice area- consumer debt collection defense. Lawsuits seeking reimbursement for violations of these laws are becoming ever more popular.
The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) is a similar Act regarding the rights of consumers. The Debt Defense Lawyers at Shamis & Gentile, P.A. are overly familiar with the exhaustive list of prohibited conduct regarding FCCPA. As a supplement to the FDCPA, the FCCPA makes it a serious violation of Florida state law-Fla. Stat.§ 559.72 to participate in certain practices in the collection of consumer debt including:
The FCCPA allows for administrative remedies (Fla. Stat. § 559.730) and civil remedies (Fla. Stat. § 559.77) for violations of § 559.72, each are encouraged by Federal law.
Debts protected under the FCCPA include money owed for the purchase of an automobile used for general transportation, the purchase of a new home, medical treatment and nonbusiness credit card accounts.
Debt collectors covered by the act may include anyone, including the creditor, who consistently collects debts for others, such as a collection agency, an attorney who recurrently collects debts or forecloses mortgages, or a business that obtains debts after they are allegedly in default.
Consumers should also know that under Florida law, a debt collector attempting to collect a debt within the state is required to be registered and licensed by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Fla. Stat. § 559.553. Exceptions to this law may apply to members of the Florida Bar and the original creditors; however, most collection agencies do not fall under any exception to the rule.
If you have been approached by a collection agency for a debt owed, Shamis & Gentile, P.A., advises you to check with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation to be certain that the agency is registered with the state. If they have failed to register and do not classify as an exception to the registration requirement, then they are violating the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act as well as the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Being harassed by a creditor or collection agency can negatively affect many aspects of your life. Luckily, there are several defenses to unfair practices made by creditors, including statute of limitations, prior collection abuse, and other faults a creditor may have. All too often we note collection entities that pay little or no attention to Florida Statute and the list of rights each and every consumer has as enumerated in Florida law.
Our creditor harassment attorneys are well versed in Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act and we are willing to take collection entities and corporations to task for violating the rights of consumers. For serious assistance in dealing with harassing debt collectors, please contact the Debt Defense Lawyers at 305-479-2299 for more information.