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How to Settle a Debt in Florida

Sarah Edwards | February 24, 2023

When you reach a debt settlement agreement in Florida ^^

Summary: Receiving notification of a pending debt lawsuit against you in Florida is scary. Luckily, you can settle a debt at any stage of the lawsuit process. Just respond to the case, send an offer, and get the settlement agreement in writing. SoloSettle can help you with all these steps and more.

Most of us carry some form of debt, whether it be a credit card, auto loan, or mortgage. While we try to keep up with our payments, sometimes things happen, like job loss or sickness. If you’re unable to work, you can easily fall behind on your bills, and getting back on track may seem impossible.

Whatever your reason for missing your payments, your creditors may decide to pass on your debt to collections or take legal action against you. A debt lawsuit can result in a judgment, allowing creditors and collectors to garnish your wages or freeze your bank account. No one wants a judgment, so the best thing to do is settle your case before it goes to court.

Debt settlement requires you to pay a certain amount to your creditor in exchange for them dismissing the claim against you. If you’re successful, you won’t need to worry about the overdue obligation anymore, and you’ll avoid a judgment.

In this article, we’ll explore Florida debt settlement and everything you should know to settle your debt there.

Follow these 3 steps to settle your debt in Florida

Working with a debt settlement company can be expensive and take years to complete. If you’re interested in beginning the debt settlement process on your own, you’ll need to take these three steps:

  1. Response to the debt lawsuit with an Answer.
  2. Send a settlement offer to open up negotiations.
  3. Get the settlement agreement in writing.

Keep reading to learn more about each of these steps, or, check out this video:

1. First, respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer

A lawsuit begins when your creditor, or a debt collector, files a Complaint in court and delivers it to you. The Complaint lists all the claims made against you, including the reasons for the lawsuit being non-payment of your debt, the amount you owe, plus any interest or fees.

In Florida, you have 20 days to respond to the Complaint. If you don’t respond before the deadline, it’s like admitting you’re at fault for the debt. This leads to a default judgment, which gives creditors and collectors the right to garnish your wages and seize your property.

While you plan to settle your case before your court date, you should still protect yourself by filing an official reply, known as an Answer.

An Answer is your defense to the lawsuit. In it, you respond to each claim against you and list reasons why the case is invalid. For instance, you could claim that the debt collector hasn’t fully verified the debt or that the statute of limitations has passed.

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2. Next, send a settlement offer to open up negotiations

Your next step is determining how much you can afford to pay in debt settlement. Assess the amount you have in savings and any upcoming income from paychecks. If you don’t have much money to spare for debt settlement, consider selling a few items in your house that you don’t need. You can also ask friends or family members for help.

You should also research previous debt settlement cases involving your creditor or debt collector. This may give you a better idea of how much money is appropriate for an initial offer.

That being said, we recommend that you start the settlement process by offering around 60% or less of the total value of your debt. Offering 60% should convince creditors and collectors alike that you’re serious about settling. It also gives you room to grow.

They will likely counter your offer, so be ready to go through a few rounds of negotiations.

Don’t accept any offer that you know you’re unable to afford. If you do and can’t follow through with full payment, your creditor will continue their case at court, where they’ll likely receive a judgment against you.

SoloSettle negotiates a debt settlement for you.

3. Lastly, remember to get the settlement agreement in writing

Don’t transfer your creditor any money until you have a written settlement agreement. A written contract ensures you and your creditor have a record of the terms of the deal. You’ll indicate precisely how much you plan to pay, its due date, and how you’ll transfer the money.

Your settlement agreement should also contain a statement that waives the right of your creditor to pursue additional action against you for the debt. It should clearly state that the settlement constitutes the end of your obligation to the creditor.

You can prepare your settlement agreement in advance of your negotiations. That way, you’ll only need to fill in the appropriate information about your deal before you send it to your creditor to sign.

You should include a space for a notary to witness the agreement for you and the creditor. That adds an additional layer of legal credibility to the deal.

Here's a debt settlement agreement example for your reference and a snippet below.

Debt Settlement Agreement Example

Let’s walk through an example of how to settle a debt in Florida.

Example: Laura receives notice of a debt lawsuit against her from her creditor, AMC Furnishings. She owes AMC Furnishings $2,000, and they’re seeking to obtain a judgment against her. Laura files her Answer with AMC Furnishings and her local Florida court. Next, she begins the debt settlement process. Laura offers AMC Furnishings $1,200 to settle her debt. AMC Furnishings counters with an offer of $1,400. Laura accepts the offer and ensures she gets a written agreement before transferring the money to AMC. Once AMC receives the money, they drop the lawsuit against her and write off the remainder of her debt.

What are Florida’s debt collection and debt settlement laws?

Florida adheres to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Under the FDCPA, debt collectors and creditors cannot take specific actions against consumers to collect a debt. Activities that the FDCPA prohibits include the following:

  • Calling the debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Contacting the consumer concerning a debt more than seven times over seven days
  • Telling the debtor they’ll go to jail if they don’t repay an obligation
  • Using obscene or threatening language when speaking with a debtor
  • Calling people the debtor knows and telling them they owe money to the creditor

In addition to adhering to the FDCPA, Florida has statute of limitations laws that cap the time a debt collector has to collect a debt. Under FL § 95.11, there is a five-year limitation for all obligations except judgments. Judgments are limited to 20 years.

Finally, the Federal Trade Commission has recently amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule to expand debt settlement regulations to all debt relief organizations and companies. All 50 states, including Florida, are governed by this Rule as it relates to debt settlement practice.

Under the new Rule, any company that provides debt relief services, namely debt settlement companies, cannot:

  • Charge upfront fees. Debt settlement companies cannot collect any fees from a consumer before the debt has been effectively settled or otherwise resolved.
  • Fail to disclose certain information about its services before a consumer enrolls in the program. This includes how much the service costs, how long it takes to see results, how much money must be saved before a settlement offer is made, consequences that may occur if the consumer fails to make payments on time, customer’s rights, and other important terms.
  • Misrepresent their services. No false or unsubstantiated claims can be made regarding a debt settlement company’s services.

SoloSettle isn’t like other debt settlement companies

You’re probably wondering, what is the best debt settlement company to work with? While there are hundreds of debt relief agencies out there that can assist with debt settlement services, none of them operate quite like SoloSettle.

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, specifically helps individuals facing a debt lawsuit. Our tech-based approach to debt settlement sends and receives settlement offers on your behalf until an agreement is reached. You don’t pay any upfront fees until the debt is settled, and SoloSettle manages your payment and settlement agreement for you.

On top of all that, SoloSettle is more affordable than your typical debt settlement company. We also take an active approach to settlement, instead of waiting for creditors or debt collectors to reach out.

Finally, SoloSettle is different because we accept any amount of debt. While traditional debt settlers only take on cases involving debts of $15,000 or more, SoloSettle can help you settle a debt of any size.

Discover how SoloSettle can make debt settlement easier.

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Below are a some trusted debt settlement companies you might also consider:

  • Accredited Debt Relief: Offers programs that last between one and four years. The company operates in 32 states, and you’ll need at least $7,500 in unsecured debt to qualify for their program. The cost for their services ranges from 15 to 25% of the total value of your debt.
  • Pacific Debt Relief: Offers programs that last between one and four years. The company operates in 32 states, and you’ll need at least $7,500 in unsecured debt to qualify for their program. The cost for their services ranges from 15 to 25% of the total value of your debt.
  • Freedom Debt Relief: One of the oldest debt settlement companies in America. Since 2002, the company has helped thousands of consumers settle over $10 billion in debt. Like Accredited Debt Relief, Freedom Debt Relief charges fees of between 15% and 25% for its services.

What are the best ways to contact a creditor?

If you’re anxious to start the debt settlement process, you can contact your creditor via phone, email, or letter.

We recommend emailing as the best method of contacting a creditor. An email ensures you have a written record of the communication. You’ll also be able to consider your responses over more time than you would with a phone call.

If you prefer to speak with your creditor directly, you can call them. However, it’s best to record the conversation so that you have it to refer to. Under FL Stat § 934.03, it is illegal to record a conversation without the consent of all parties, so you must ask your creditor for express permission before you record the call.

FAQs about debt settlement in Florida

Most people have many questions when beginning the debt settlement process. Here are a few of the most common that we see:

Q. What percentage of debt should you offer to settle?

You should start the settlement process by offering 60% of the total value of the debt to the creditor. An offer of 60% is typically looked at positively by creditors. They’ll see that you’re trying to resolve the issue, but be aware they may counter with an offer of their own.

Q. Is it better to settle a debt or pay it off?

It’s best to repay your debt entirely rather than settle it. Paying your debt completely looks better on your credit report. However, if you’re in a challenging financial situation, like a debt lawsuit, settling your debt helps you avoid a potential judgment against you and enables you to move on from the situation.

Q. How long before a debt is written off in Florida?

Creditors will not write off debt unless you repay or settle them. Declaring bankruptcy can also wipe out some obligations. However, your creditors will lose the right to sue you for a debt after five years in Florida. They can continue to send collection notices past this period and report your account negatively to credit reporting agencies.

How to get debt relief in Florida

SoloSuit has several other guides you can review if you seek help with debt relief in Florida.

Settling your debt is possible if you take the proper steps

While facing a debt lawsuit is concerning, you can settle the matter before your court date if you take the proper steps. Make sure to respond to the creditor’s Complaint with an Answer, start the negotiation process, and get the agreement in writing. With some work, you’ll avoid a judgment and start over financially.

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