Florida residents should derive much-needed comfort from the fact that they are protected from harassment, abuse and other misleading tactics by both debt collectors and third-party debt buyers thanks to the landmark federal law that is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
In fact, Florida residents can derive additional comfort from the fact that they are also protected by the state's Consumer Collection Practices Act, or FCCPA, which is designed to enhance the FDCPA's consumer protection provisions.
For example, while the FDCPA applies to only debt collectors and third-party debt buyers, the FCCPA covers these entities as well as original creditors, effectively providing Sunshine State residents with a third tier of consumer protection.
As to what this consumer protection looks like under the FCCPA, it expressly prohibits creditors and debt collectors from engaging in just some of the following practices:
- Falsely purporting to be a law enforcement official or representative of a government agency
- Falsely claiming, threatening or attempting to enforce a debt known to be illegitimate or asserting a right known to be nonexistent
- Mailing communications in envelopes or postcards with embarrassing words or phrases printed on the outside
- Threatening or publishing a list of debtors to the general public (i.e., a deadbeat list) in order to enforce or attempt to enforce collection efforts
It's important to note that the FCCPA does permit creditors to assign -- sell or transfer -- consumer debts to third parties, who can then turn around and attempt to collect the money owed. However, these debt buyers must provide 30 days notice before attempting to collect and are covered by the collection rules discussed above.
We'll continue this discussion next time, examining the remedies available to consumers for violations of the FCCPA.
In the meantime, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options if you are being subjected to relentless harassment by debt collectors.