Four Things You Need to Know About the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA)
- FCCPA Builds Upon Federal Legislation
The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act establishes legal protections to eliminate deceptive and abusive debt collection practices. The Act covers practices by both debtors and creditors. FCCPA supplements the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which provides the same protections under federal law. FCCPA adds additional protections for consumers conducting business and those engaged in financial transactions in the state of Florida. Therefore, FCCPA provides greater protection for transactions arising out of the state of Florida and transactions concerning its residents.
- Debt Collectors Cannot Engage in Certain Tactics
Under FCCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in a wide range of abusive and deceptive practices. Debt collectors cannot (1) use threats or violence, (2) contact third parties about the debtor’s debt, (3) berate family members, (4) contact the debtor after 9 p.m. and before 8 a.m., (5) seek to continue corresponding with the debtor after the debtor has retained counsel, and (6) contact the debtor pretending to be a law enforcement officer (Section 559.72). Above are just a few of the many practices prohibited under the FCCPA. As evident, the law strives to maintain professionalism in the practice of debt collection. For the debtor, the law seeks to alleviate some of the burden that comes along with being the subject of a collections action.
- FCCPA Requires Creditors to Register
FCCPA seeks to utilize administrative remedies and processes to resolve disputes between the debtor and creditor. First, the FCCPA provides that all creditors must register with the state of Florida. The registration enables the entity to collect debts in the state. The registration also permits the state to track the activities of the creditor. As a result, if the state finds that a creditor is engaged in abusive behavior, the state can revoke or suspend its registration. A creditor who fails to register with the state is subject to a hefty administration fine. The rule covers creditors of all sort including the traditional collection agencies to attorneys.
- Creditors Can Seek Civil or Criminal Remedies
A debtor can seek civil or criminal penalties against creditors who engage in deceptive and abusive practices in violation of FCCPA. This occurs when the debtor has exhausted their administrative remedies. In this scenario, the debtor can bring suit against the creditor in a county court. If the creditor fails to successfully defend the case, they are required to pay actual damages, statutory damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees. Interestingly enough, the criminal aspect of the FCCPA is covered under the registration rules. A creditor who does not register is subject to a misdemeanor charge. The charge is a more serious one if it is coupled with fraud or concealment. Even if the debtor pursues a case under FCCPA, they should keep in mind that they may also have some form of redress under federal law.
Fort Lauderdale Consumer Lawyer
Attorney Brendan A. Sweeney is an experienced consumer law attorney with years of experience litigating and advising on FCCPA issues. He has represented countless companies and private individuals in their consumer law cases. Contact us now for a consultation.