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Florida’s Debt Collection Problem

selective focus of man near paper with credit report letters and cup of coffee

Ensuring Protection for Consumers’ Rights

Debt collection is a significant concern for many consumers, and recent reports have shed light on the top financial worries among individual Americans. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), credit reporting was the leading cause of debt collection complaints in 2022. This article will place emphasis on Florida’s debt collection problem and highlight the legal remedies available to consumers.

accurate credit historyCredit Reporting Complaints: Impact on Access to Affordable Credit

In the previous year, a significant number of consumer complaints were directed at the three primary national credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Out of a total of 978,000 complaints, an overwhelming 76% were targeted at these credit reporting agencies. It is noteworthy that more than half of these complaints came from individuals under the age of 62, highlighting the importance of credit bureaus in determining access to affordable credit for younger consumers​.

Access to affordable credit is crucial for active individuals looking to make significant purchases such as buying a home, securing auto financing, or obtaining a credit card. Credit bureaus play a major role in evaluating the creditworthiness of consumers and determining their eligibility for loans and credit. The information provided by credit reporting agencies directly impacts individuals’ credit scores, which in turn influences their ability to access affordable credit. For people who are building their credit history and financial standing, the accuracy and fairness of credit reporting become paramount.

Credit reporting should be checked for accuracyThe Importance of Accurate Credit Reporting

A negative credit report can have a detrimental impact on their financial future, making it harder to obtain favorable loan terms, secure housing, or access insurance premiums. Therefore, ensuring that credit reporting agencies adhere to consumer protection laws and accurately report credit information is essential for enabling consumers to establish and maintain good credit standing.

While credit reporting complaints dominated the landscape, debt collection concerns remain significant as reported by the Chicago Crusader. However, in 2022, there was a five percent decrease in debt collection complaints compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, the leading reason for Florida’s debt collection problem since 2013 has been consumers being hounded for debts they do not owe​.

It is important to also acknowledge that a growing number of consumers continue to face financial struggles. The New York Federal Reserve’s 2022 Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit highlighted that credit card balances, auto loan balances, and student loan balances have been on the rise. Stubbornly high prices and climbing interest rates may be challenging some borrowers’ ability to repay their debts, especially as real disposable income has fallen in recent years​.

Regulating Debt Collection Practices in Florida:

In Florida, debt collection practices are regulated by both federal and state laws. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that provides protection to debtors from abusive debt collection practices. In Florida, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) works in conjunction with the FDCPA to safeguard consumers’ rights. The FCCPA prohibits the use of abusive or deceptive practices by original creditors and third-party collectors when attempting to collect a debt​.

Under the FCCPA, consumers have the right to take legal action against debt collectors who violate the law. If a collector harms you in direct violation of the FCCPA, you can pursue a private cause of action. If successful, the court may award damages not exceeding $1,000, actual damages or losses endured, attorney fees, and court costs. This legal recourse empowers consumers to hold debt collectors accountable for any wrongdoing​.

Debt collectors, whether original creditors or third-party collectors, are also bound by the provisions of the FDCPA. The law sets rules that debt collectors must follow, such as providing a debt validation letter within five days of initial contact, responding to debt verification requests, refraining from calling at inappropriate hours or places, respecting requests to stop collection calls, and communicating with the debtor’s lawyer if they have one​.

In Florida, the statute of limitations for debt collection refers to the period during which a debt collector can sue an individual to collect payment. Once this time passes, the debt collection agency can no longer take legal action. In Florida, the statute of limitations for promissory notes or written contracts is five years​.

Debt NoticeSteps to Address a Debt Collection Notice in Florida

If you receive a debt collection notice in Florida, there are steps you can take to address the issue. Firstly, review the notice carefully to verify the original creditor, debt amount, purpose of the debt, and the collector’s identity.

If you believe the debt is erroneous or have questions, you can file a verification request to seek clarification. After the debt validation process, you have several options:

  1. Pay the debt: If you determine that the debt is valid and you are in a position to repay it, you can choose to pay the debt in full.
  2. Draft a Debt Validation letter: If you dispute the debt, you can send a Debt Validation letter to the debt collector, notifying them that you contest the debt and requesting them to provide evidence that you owe the debt. Until they provide you with the required debt validation, they should not contact you directly. You can specify how they should communicate with you, such as through your lawyer or other means. After sending this letter, the law requires the debt collector to refrain from contacting you, although they may still choose to file a lawsuit.
  3. Report violations to the FTC or CFPB: If the debt collector has violated the FDCPA, you have the option to report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These regulatory agencies enforce the FDCPA and take action against debt collectors who engage in unfair or illegal practices​.

senior man pointing at paper with debt collection letterSeeking Legal Assistance: Protecting Your Rights when Dealing with Debt Collectors in Florida

Dealing with debt collectors can be a difficult and frustrating process, especially if they are breaking the law. If this happens, it is recommended that you seek the help of a Florida attorney who specializes in consumer protection. They can provide legal counsel to help protect your rights as a consumer.

An attorney can ensure that debt collectors do not violate the FDCPA by engaging in unfair or deceptive practices. They can also help you understand your options, such as filing a lawsuit to recover any losses or damages incurred due to the violation. With their help, you can hold debt collectors accountable and obtain relief from abusive debt collection tactics​​.

Let’s recap: Understanding debt collection laws in Florida is essential for protecting consumers’ rights. Both federal and state laws, such as the FDCPA and FCCPA, aim to prevent abusive practices by debt collectors. As a consumer, if debt collectors violate laws you have the right to take legal action against them. To protect your rights and effectively handle debt collection problems, make sure you are familiar with the regulations and seek legal help if needed.

This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Contact a qualified attorney if you need help with any issues related to debt collection in Florida.


Led by attorneys J. Andrew Meyer and Michael D. Finn with over 75 years of combined legal experience. The Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in Timeshare Law. If you have a question or feel you need legal advice about a debt collection issue, contact our offices to schedule a free consultation at (855) FINN-LAW or email us at [email protected]

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