Debt Collection Law
Debt collection is a necessary fact of doing business in most industries. The activities companies undertake in an attempt to collect a debt, including professional collection agencies as well as the original creditors, must adhere to state and federal laws meant to protect consumers from certain overzealous practices. The attorneys at the law firm of Schwed Kahle & Kress, P.A. are experienced litigators who advise and represent clients throughout Florida regarding debt collection, including lawsuits, judgment enforcement, and claims of unfair debt collection practices. Common debt collection issues include:
Disputes over the debt
The debtor may dispute the validity of the debt as a whole or the amount involved. Litigation is typically necessary to resolve such a dispute, which may be settled out of court, in mediation or arbitration, or through trial if necessary.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
This law limits when, where and how debt collectors may operate in their attempts to collect on a debt. The law contains a long list of prohibited activities and allows consumers to bring civil actions and recover money damages for violations of the Act
This law applies to debt collectors, i.e. third parties who have purchased or assumed the debt from the original creditor. The FDCPA does not therefore apply to collection activities on behalf of the original creditor, except in limited circumstances such as when the creditor assumes a different name when engaging in debt collection.
Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA)
The FCCPA mirrors the FDCPA to a large degree, yet with important distinctions. Perhaps the most important difference is that the Florida law applies to all creditors and not just third-party collection agencies. This means that first-party creditors such as credit card companies, furniture and appliance stores, auto dealer finance departments, cell phone retailers, electronic stores and credit unions all fall under the obligations of the Act.
Another significant difference from the federal law is that the FCCPA expressly authorizes individuals to collect punitive damages when warranted. Under both the FDCPA and the FCCPA, successful consumers can also have their attorney’s fees and court costs assessed against the company they sued.
Statute of Limitations
The deadline to file a lawsuit to collect a debt in Florida varies depending upon the type of debt and whether it is based on an oral contract, written contract or revolving account. For most debts the timeframe is typically four or five years. The statute of limitations can run from the last time a payment was missed, so making a payment can reset the clock or re-age the debt, giving the creditor more time to collect the debt. It is also important to understand that a debt is still valid and collectible after the statute of limitations has passed, except the creditor cannot avail itself of the court system to obtain a judgment against the debtor.
Call Schwed Kahle & Kress for Help with Florida Debt Collection Law
Contact our offices in Palm Beach Gardens or throughout Florida statewide for professional legal assistance in a Florida debt collection matter.