May 07, 2021
Summary: Being sued for an old debt in Florida? You might not have to pay if the statute of limitations has run out. Find out if the statute of limitations is your best defense.
If you reside in Florida and were served with a debt collection lawsuit, it is incredibly important to assess the age of the debt that is allegedly owed. Why is the age of the debt important? Because you may be able to raise the statute of limitations as a defense to get the debt collection lawsuit thrown out of a Florida court.
Florida Statute of Limitations
Deadline in Years
The statute of limitations is a timeline set forth by the Florida government that stipulates how long a debt collector can file a lawsuit to collect on a debt. If the statute of limitations for that particular type of debt expires, the creditor is barred from attempting to collect on the debt through a civil lawsuit. In Florida, the statute of limitations on Florida debt is generally five years.
However, it is fairly common for creditors to proceed with filing a lawsuit in the hopes that you will not realize that the statute of limitations expired. It is important to note that the responsibility falls on you, the defendant, to raise the statute of limitations as a defense.
Some debt collectors will try to persuade you to make a small, “good faith” payment towards the debt. Do not make this mistake. If you make a new payment toward the debt, it will effectively reset the clock on the statute of limitations. Renewing your debt means that the debt collector gets to enjoy a much longer period of time to pursue collection of the debt and can file a lawsuit against you based on the date of the new payment.
Even though you cannot be jailed for failing to pay a debt in Florida, a creditor can send your credit history and information to the nation's credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This information can harm your credit score or, worse, remain on your credit report for up to seven years.
It is important to note that the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) bars debt collectors from harassing you or resulting in aggressive and abusive tactics to collect their debt. For example, debt collectors cannot threaten you or falsely claim to arrest you.
They cannot also call you before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM unless you expressly permit them. Exaggerating or misrepresenting the amount you owe them is also prohibited.
In Florida, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if a debt collector is threatening you, repeatedly calling, using abusive language, or misrepresenting your information. However, should you fail to clear your debt, the debt collectors may file a lawsuit in court and a judgment made against you as a result. If this happens, you will become a "judgment debtor."
The debt collector may keep trying to collect their debt for up to 20 years which is how long some judgments last. It is critical to note that some debts may accrue interest along the way depending on the standards set by the Chief Financial Officer of the Florida State.
If a judgment is entered against you, a Florida court may ask you to submit your property information, income, assets, employer details, and social security number. The courts may also authorize an execution which is a process that allows the person or company owed to seize your personal or real estate property.
Other consequences of having a judgment entered against you include having your bank account seized and your wages garnished. However, there is a limit to what assets can be seized or accessed, including:
After receiving a phone call or a creditor's collection letter, the first step is to validate the debt. You can do this by:
You can access sample letters from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to confirm your debt, request more information, and give the debt collector specific instructions on contacting you. Once you confirm the debt and all the other necessary information, you should take quick action to minimize damaging consequences.
First, you should determine the Statute of Limitations for the different types of debts to check if the debt collector can still file a lawsuit against you.
If you are unsure about the debt's owner or you wish to dispute it, you should ask the creditor for more evidence or verification documents, or you can even ask them to stop contacting you.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind when working with debt collectors:
If you are being harassed by a debt collector or were served with a Summons and Complaint, it is important to determine the age of the debt so you can assess whether a statute of limitations defense is viable. In Florida, the statute of limitations applicable to a debt collection lawsuit is generally five years. This means that once five years have passed, a creditor generally can no longer file a lawsuit against you to try and recover on that old debt.
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.