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Debt Collection Laws in Florida

Sarah Edwards | August 02, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: Most Florida debts have a statute of limitations of five years. Furthermore, consumers are protected from aggressive collection practices by the FDCPA and Florida state laws. If you’ve been sued for debt in Florida, SoloSuit can help you respond to the case, stand up for your rights, and settle your debt before going to court.

They may call it the Sunshine State, but repeated calls from a debt collector can darken your spirits. If you’re a resident of Florida, you have rights that protect you from aggressive or persistent debt collection agencies.

This guide will help you understand Florida's debt collection laws and explain how to respond to unwanted phone calls.

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Florida statute of limitations on debt

The statute of limitations on debt is the maximum length of time that a creditor or debt collector can take legal action to collect a debt. Once the statute of limitations period has expired, the creditor or debt collector can no longer sue for payment. It is important to note that the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of debt and the jurisdiction (state or country) in which the debt was incurred.

Florida’s statute of limitations on debt is five years. This means that Florida creditors and debt collectors only have five years to sue you for a debt, starting from the date of your last action on an account.

The table below further outlines the Florida statutes of limitations on different types of debt:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Florida

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 5 years
Medical 5 years
Auto Loan 5 years
Student Loan 5 years
Mortgage 5 years
Personal Loan 5 years
Judgment 20 years
Source: Fla. Stat. § 95.11

Making a good-faith payment on your debt can reset the clock on the statute of limitations For example, suppose that you make a payment on a debt that you’ve owed for four years. Unfortunately, this means that the debt collector can now pursue the debt for an additional five years. As such, debt collectors often try to persuade you to make a small payment as a show of good faith.

This deadline is important if you’re facing a lawsuit. You should check the last time you made a payment on a debt before you agree to making any further payments on a delinquent account.

Use the statute of limitations as a defense in your Florida debt lawsuit.

Federal law protects Florida consumers from unfair debt collectors

Every state in the U.S. is governed by the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This act protects consumers from aggressive collection practices or repeated harassment.

Specifically, debt collectors are prohibited from:

  • Contacting you before 8 a.m. or past 9 p.m.
  • Contacting you more than once per day.
  • Contacting your family or friends regarding your debt.
  • Contacting you despite receiving a Cease and Desist Letter.
  • Threatening you with prison if you fail to repay the debt.
  • Using offensive or vulgar language.
  • Declining to identify themselves or validate your debt.

If you believe the debt collector has violated the terms of the FDCPA, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using the FTC website or by calling 877-382-4357.

You can also report violations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through the website or by calling 855-411-2372.

Florida state laws also protect you from unfair debt collection

In addition to the FDCPA’s restrictions and requirements, Florida debt collectors are subject to a few other specific prohibitions laid out in Fla. Stat. Ann. § 559.72.

Debt collectors may not:

  • Impersonate law enforcement.
  • Mail you documents with embarrassing words or phrases on the outside.
  • Communicate with you if they know you have an attorney.
  • Threaten you with illegitimate debt.
  • Use documents designed to resemble legal documents (e.g., a “summons”).
  • Contact a third party regarding your debt.

You can report violators to either Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And according to Fla. Stat. Ann. § 559.77, you may be awarded damages if you pursue a lawsuit against the collector.

In addition to federal law, Florida residents are protected under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), which establishes additional regulations for debt collectors.

Because the FCCPA and FDCPA lay out specific guidelines and restrictions for debt collectors, it’s important to put them into practice when facing unfair debt collection practices.

Let’s look at an example to learn how to respond to a debt collector who violates the FDCPA in Florida:

Example: Julie’s phone has been ringing every day. Sometimes, she’ll even get calls late at night, often after 10:00 p.m. After a little research, Julie learns that this is a clear violation of the standards set by the FDCPA. What’s more, Julie discovers that the collector is from outside the state of Florida but failed to register with the state before attempting to collect her debt — a clear violation of the FCCPA. Julie now has recourse to report these violations to Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation and the CFPB. She pursues a lawsuit against the collection agency, and the judge awards her $1,000 in damages.

Below, we break down some other Florida debt collection laws.

Florida debt collectors must be registered

All debt collectors that attempt to gather debt in the state of Florida must first be registered with Florida — even if they’re located in another state.

It’s important to note, however, that certain professions are exempt from this requirement. This includes attorneys, credit unions, financial institutions, and retailers or merchants.

Under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 559.565, failing to register can result in a fine of up to $10,000.

Collectors may access Florida public records

Be advised that Florida debt collectors may legally access public records to learn more about a debtor’s business interests. These records won’t disclose whether an individual has an ownership interest in any particular entity, but they may reveal that he or she is an officer/director of a corporation, the manager of an LLC, or a general partner in a partnership.

Florida collection laws protect your property

The FCCPA also contains provisions that protect your home, vehicle, and wages — even when you face legitimate debt.

Florida residents who live in an incorporated area can exempt their home and up to one half-acre of property from being sold to cover the debt (or 160 acres for those in an unincorporated area). The only exception is for creditors who hold a mortgage or other lien against the property.

Debt collectors can only seize your car if its value exceeds $1,000. Florida residents can file an affidavit with the court if (1) their car has been seized and (2) the car is worth less than the $1,000 limit.

Florida protects its residents from wage garnishment. Debt collectors cannot garnish more than 25% of your net weekly wages. Nor can they garnish more than 30 times the minimum hourly wage — whichever is lesser.

Learn more about how SoloSuit can help you respond to debt collection lawsuits.

How SoloSuit can help

SoloSuit is your best friend when it comes to addressing past debt. We can help you settle your debts quickly and easily — potentially saving you thousands. And if you’re facing a lawsuit, SoloSuit can help you draft an Answer and send it to the court. We can even have an attorney review the document for total peace of mind.

In your Answer, you’ll be able to stand up for your rights and increase your chances of winning your case substantially. Once you’ve responded to the lawsuit, you might want to consider settling the debt in order to resolve the obligation once and for all.

To learn more about debt settlement, check out our guide on How to Settle a Debt in Florida or watch the following video:

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