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Florida Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act

West’s F.S.A. § 559.55 Definitions

The following terms shall, unless the context otherwise indicates, have the following meanings for the purpose of this part:

(1) “Commission” means the Financial Services Commission.

(2) “Communication” means the conveying of information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium.

(3) “Consumer collection agency” means any debt collector or business entity engaged in the business of soliciting consumer debts for collection or of collecting consumer debts, which debt collector or business is not expressly exempted as set forth in s. 559.553(3).

(4) “Control person” means an individual, partnership, corporation, trust, or other organization that possesses the power, directly or indirectly, to direct the management or policies of a company, whether through ownership of securities, by contract, or otherwise. The term includes, but is not limited to:
(a) A company’s executive officers, including the president, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operations officer, chief legal officer, chief compliance officer, director, and other individuals having similar status or functions.
(b) For a corporation, a shareholder who, directly or indirectly, owns 10 percent or more or that has the power to vote 10 percent or more, of a class of voting securities unless the applicant is a publicly traded company.
(c) For a partnership, all general partners and limited or special partners who have contributed 10 percent or more or that have the right to receive, upon dissolution, 10 percent or more of the partnership’s capital.
(d) For a trust, each trustee.
(e) For a limited liability company, all elected managers and those members who have contributed 10 percent or more or that have the right to receive, upon dissolution, 10 percent or more of the partnership’s capital.

(5) “Creditor” means any person who offers or extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt is owed, but does not include any person to the extent that they receive an assignment or transfer of a debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating collection of such debt for another.

(6) “Debt” or “consumer debt” means any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, whether or not such obligation has been reduced to judgment.

(7) “Debt collector” means any person who uses any instrumentality of commerce within this state, whether initiated from within or outside this state, in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another. The term “debt collector” includes any creditor who, in the process of collecting her or his own debts, uses any name other than her or his own which would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to collect such debts. The term does not include:
(a) Any officer or employee of a creditor while, in the name of the creditor, collecting debts for such creditor;
(b) Any person while acting as a debt collector for another person, both of whom are related by common ownership or affiliated by corporate control, if the person is acting as a debt collector for persons to whom it is so related or affiliated and if the principal business of such persons is not the collection of debts;
(c) Any officer or employee of any federal, state, or local governmental body to the extent that collecting or attempting to collect any debt is in the performance of her or his official duties;
(d) Any person while serving or attempting to serve legal process on any other person in connection with the judicial enforcement of any debt;
(e) Any not-for-profit organization which, at the request of consumers, performs bona fide consumer credit counseling and assists consumers in the liquidation of their debts by receiving payments from such consumers and distributing such amounts to creditors; or
(f) Any person collecting or attempting to collect any debt owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another to the extent that such activity is incidental to a bona fide fiduciary obligation or a bona fide escrow arrangement; concerns a debt which was originated by such person; concerns a debt which was not in default at the time it was obtained by such person; or concerns a debt obtained by such person as a secured party in a commercial credit transaction involving the creditor.

(8) “Debtor” or “consumer” means any natural person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay any debt.

(9) “Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act” or “Federal Act” means the federal legislation regulating fair debt collection practices, as set forth in Pub. L. No. 95-109, as amended and published in 15 U.S.C. ss. 1692 et seq.

(10) “Office” means the Office of Financial Regulation of the commission.

(11) “Out-of-state consumer debt collector” means any person whose business activities in this state involve both collecting or attempting to collect consumer debt from debtors located in this state by means of interstate communication originating from outside this state and soliciting consumer debt accounts for collection from creditors who have a business presence in this state. For purposes of this subsection, a creditor has a business presence in this state if either the creditor or an affiliate or subsidiary of the creditor has an office in this state.

Laws 1972, c. 72-81, § 1; Laws 1981, c. 81-314, § 3; Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 4. Amended by Laws 1997, c. 97-103, § 817, eff. July 1, 1997; Laws 2003, c. 2003-261, § 677, eff. June 26, 2003; Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2014; Laws 2016, c. 2016-10, § 68, eff. May 10, 2016.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.551 Short title

Sections 559.55-559.785 may be cited as the “Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.”

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 5.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.552 Relationship of state and federal law

Nothing in this part shall be construed to limit or restrict the continued applicability of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to consumer collection practices in this state. This part is in addition to the requirements and regulations of the federal act. In the event of any inconsistency between any provision of this part and any provision of the federal act, the provision which is more protective of the consumer or debtor shall prevail.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 5.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.553 Registration of consumer collection agencies required; exemptions

(1) A person may not engage in business in this state as a consumer collection agency or continue to do business in this state as a consumer collection agency without first registering in accordance with this part, and thereafter maintaining a valid registration.

(2) Each consumer collection agency doing business in this state shall register with the office and renew such registration annually as set forth in s. 559.555.

(3) This section does not apply to:
(a) An original creditor.
(b) A member of The Florida Bar.
(c) A financial institution authorized to do business in this state and any wholly owned subsidiary and affiliate thereof.
(d) A licensed real estate broker.
(e) An insurance company authorized to do business in this state.
(f) A consumer finance company and any wholly owned subsidiary and affiliate thereof.
(g) A person licensed pursuant to chapter 520.
(h) An out-of-state consumer debt collector who does not solicit consumer debt accounts for collection from credit grantors who have a business presence in this state.
(i) An FDIC-insured institution or subsidiary or affiliate thereof.

(4) An out-of-state consumer debt collector as defined in s. 559.55(11) who is not exempt from registration by application of subsection (3) and who fails to register in accordance with this part shall be subject to an enforcement action by the state as specified in s. 559.565.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 5. Amended by Laws 2003, c. 2003-261, § 678, eff. June 26, 2003; Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.554 Powers and duties of the commission and office

(1) The office is responsible for the administration and enforcement of this part.

(2) The commission may adopt rules to administer this part, including rules:
(a) Requiring electronic submission of forms, documents, and fees required by this part.
(b) Establishing time periods during which a consumer collection agency is barred from registration due to prior criminal convictions of, or guilty or nolo contendere pleas by, an applicant’s control persons, regardless of adjudication.

1. The rules must provide:
a. A 15-year disqualifying period for felonies involving fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering, or other acts of moral turpitude.
b. A 7-year disqualifying period for all other felonies.
c. A 5-year disqualifying period for misdemeanors involving fraud, dishonesty, or other acts of moral turpitude.
2. The rules must provide for an additional waiting period due to dates of imprisonment or community supervision, the commitment of multiple crimes, and other factors reasonably related to the applicant’s criminal history.
3. The rules must provide for mitigating factors for crimes identified in sub-subparagraphs 1.a., 1.b., and 1.c.
4. An applicant is not eligible for registration until expiration of the disqualifying period set by rule.
5. Section 112.011 does not apply to eligibility for registration under this part.

(3) All fees, charges, and fines collected pursuant to this part shall be deposited into the Regulatory Trust Fund of the office.

Added by Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 3, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.5541 Examinations and investigations

(1) Notwithstanding s. 559.725(4), the office may, without advance notice, conduct examinations and investigations, within or outside this state, to determine whether a person has violated this part or related rules. For purposes of this section, the office may examine the books, accounts, records, and other documents or matters of any person subject to this part. The office may compel the production of all relevant books, records, and other documents and materials relative to an examination or investigation. Examinations may not be made more often than once during a 48-month period unless the office has reason to believe a person has violated or will violate this part or related rules.

(2) In order to reduce the burden on persons subject to this part, the office may conduct a joint or concurrent examination with a state or federal regulatory agency and may furnish a copy of all examinations to an appropriate regulator if the regulator agrees to abide by the confidentiality provisions in chapter 119 and this part. The office may also accept an examination from any appropriate regulator.

Added by Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 4, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.555 Registration of consumer collection agencies; procedure

(1) A person who acts as a consumer collection agency must be registered in accordance with this section.

(2) In order to apply for a consumer collection agency registration, an applicant must:
(a) Submit a completed application form as prescribed by rule of the commission.
(b) Submit a nonrefundable application fee of $200. Application fees may not be prorated for partial years of registration.
(c) Submit fingerprints for each of the applicant’s control persons in accordance with rules adopted by the commission.

1. The fingerprints may be submitted through a third-party vendor authorized by the Department of Law Enforcement to provide live-scan fingerprinting.
2. A state criminal history background check must be conducted through the Department of Law Enforcement, and a national criminal history background check must be conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
3. All fingerprints submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement must be submitted electronically and entered into the statewide automated biometric identification system established in s. 943.05(2)(b) and available for use in accordance with s. 943.05(2)(g) and (h). The office shall pay an annual fee to the Department of Law Enforcement to participate in the system and inform the Department of Law Enforcement of any person whose fingerprints are no longer required to be retained.
4. The costs of fingerprint processing, including the cost of retaining the fingerprints, shall be borne by the person subject to the background check.
5. The office is responsible for reviewing the results of the state and national criminal history background checks and determining whether the applicant meets registration requirements.

(3) The office shall issue a consumer collection agency registration to each person who is not otherwise ineligible and who meets the requirements of this section. However, it is a ground for denial of registration if the applicant or one of the applicant’s control persons has committed any violation specified in this part, or is the subject of a pending felony criminal prosecution or a prosecution or an administrative enforcement action, in any jurisdiction, which involves fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering, or any other act of moral turpitude.

(4) A registration issued under this part is not transferable or assignable.

(5) A consumer collection agency shall report, on a form prescribed by rule of the commission, any change in the information contained in an initial application form, or an amendment thereto, within 30 days after the change is effective.

(6) Renewal of registration shall be made between October 1 and December 31 of each year. There shall be no proration of the fee for any registration. In order to renew a consumer collection agency registration, a registrant must submit a nonrefundable renewal fee equal to the registration fee and a nonrefundable fee to cover the costs of further fingerprint processing and retention as set forth by commission rule.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 5. Amended by Laws 2003, c. 2003-261, § 679, eff. June 26, 2003; Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 5, eff. Oct. 1, 2014; Laws 2016, c. 2016-10, § 69, eff. May 10, 2016.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.5551 Requirements of registrants

A registrant under this part shall report to the office in a manner prescribed by rule of the commission:

(1) A conviction of, or plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime or administrative violation that involves fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering, or any other act of moral turpitude, in any jurisdiction, by the registrant or any control person within 30 days after the date of conviction, entry of a plea of nolo contendere, or final administrative action.

(2) A conviction of, or plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a felony committed by the registrant or any control person within 30 days after the date of conviction or the date the plea of nolo contendere is entered.

(3) A change to the information contained in an initial application form or an amendment to the application within 30 days after the change is effective.

(4) An addition or subtraction of a control person or a change in the form of business organization. A control person added by a registrant is subject to this part and must submit fingerprints in accordance with s. 559.555 and the rules of the commission. The office may bring an administrative action in accordance with s. 559.730 to enforce this part if the added control person fails to meet registration requirements or comply with any other provision of this part.

Added by Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 6, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.5556 Maintenance of records

(1) Each registered consumer collection agency shall maintain, at the principal place of business designated on the registration, all books, accounts, records, and documents necessary to determine the registrant’s compliance with this part.

(2) The office may authorize the maintenance of records at a location other than a principal place of business. The office may require books, accounts, and records to be produced and available at a reasonable and convenient location in this state.

(3) The commission may prescribe by rule the minimum information to be shown in the books, accounts, records, and documents of registrants so that such records enable the office to determine the registrant’s compliance with this part.

(4) All books, accounts, records, documents, and receipts of any debt collection transaction must be preserved and kept available for inspection by the office for at least 3 years after the date the transaction is completed. The commission may prescribe by rule requirements for the destruction of books, accounts, records, and documents retained by the registrant after the completion of the 3 years.

Added by Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2010.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.5558 Public records exemption; investigations and examinations

(1) As used in this section, the term “personal financial and health information” means:
(a) Information relating to the existence, nature, source, or amount of a consumer’s personal income, expenses, and debt;
(b) Information relating to a consumer’s financial transactions of any kind;
(c) Information relating to the existence, identification, nature, or value of a consumer’s assets, liabilities, or net worth;
(d) A consumer’s personal health condition, disease, or injury; or
(e) A history of a consumer’s personal medical diagnosis or treatment.

(2)
(a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, information held by the office pursuant to an investigation or examination of a violation of this part is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. However, information made confidential and exempt pursuant to this section may be disclosed by the office to a law enforcement agency or another administrative agency in the performance of its official duties and responsibilities.
(b) Information made confidential and exempt pursuant to this section is no longer confidential and exempt once the investigation or examination is completed or ceases to be active unless disclosure of the information would:
1. Jeopardize the integrity of another active investigation or examination.
2. Reveal the personal identifying information of a consumer, unless the consumer is also the complainant. A complainant’s personal identifying information is subject to disclosure after the investigation or examination is completed or ceases to be active. However, a complainant’s personal financial and health information remains confidential and exempt.
3. Reveal the identity of a confidential source.
4. Reveal investigative or examination techniques or procedures.
5. Reveal trade secrets, as defined in s. 688.002.
(c) For purposes of this subsection, an investigation or examination is considered active if the investigation or examination is proceeding with reasonable dispatch and the office has a reasonable good faith belief that the investigation or examination may lead to the filing of an administrative, civil, or criminal proceeding or to the denial or conditional grant of an application for registration or other approval required under this part.

(3) This section is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2019, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.

Added by Laws 2014, c. 2014-117, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.563 Void registration

Any registration made under this part based upon false identification or false information, or identification not current with respect to name, address, and business location, or other fact which is material to such registration, shall be void. Any registration made and subsequently void under this section shall not be construed as creating any defense in any action by the office to impose any sanction for any violation of this part.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 5. Amended by Laws 2003, c. 2003-261, § 680, eff. June 26, 2003.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.565 Enforcement action against out-of-state consumer debt collector

The remedies of this section are cumulative to other sanctions and enforcement provisions of this part for any violation by an out-of-state consumer debt collector, as defined in s. 559.55(11).

(1) An out-of-state consumer debt collector who collects or attempts to collect consumer debts in this state without first registering in accordance with this part is subject to an administrative fine of up to $10,000 together with reasonable attorney fees and court costs in any successful action by the state to collect such fines.

(2) A person, whether or not exempt from registration under this part, who violates s. 559.72 is subject to sanctions the same as any other consumer debt collector, including imposition of an administrative fine. The registration of a duly registered out-of-state consumer debt collector is subject to revocation or suspension in the same manner as the registration of any other registrant under this part.

(3) In order to effectuate this section and enforce the requirements of this part as it relates to out-of-state consumer debt collectors, the Attorney General is expressly authorized to initiate such action on behalf of the state as he or she deems appropriate in any state or federal court of competent jurisdiction.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 5. Amended by Laws 1997, c. 97-103, § 818, eff. July 1, 1997; Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2010; Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.715 Assignment of consumer debts

This part does not prohibit the assignment, by a creditor, of the right to bill and collect a consumer debt. However, the assignee must give the debtor written notice of such assignment as soon as practical after the assignment is made, but at least 30 days before any action to collect the debt. The assignee is a real party in interest and may bring an action to collect a debt that has been assigned to the assignee and is in default.

Laws 1989, c. 89-69, § 1; Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 6. Amended by Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 3, eff. Oct. 1, 2010.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.72 Prohibited practices generally

In collecting consumer debts, no person shall:

(1) Simulate in any manner a law enforcement officer or a representative of any governmental agency.

(2) Use or threaten force or violence.

(3) Tell a debtor who disputes a consumer debt that she or he or any person employing her or him will disclose to another, orally or in writing, directly or indirectly, information affecting the debtor’s reputation for credit worthiness without also informing the debtor that the existence of the dispute will also be disclosed as required by subsection (6).

(4) Communicate or threaten to communicate with a debtor’s employer before obtaining final judgment against the debtor, unless the debtor gives her or his permission in writing to contact her or his employer or acknowledges in writing the existence of the debt after the debt has been placed for collection. However, this does not prohibit a person from telling the debtor that her or his employer will be contacted if a final judgment is obtained.

(5) Disclose to a person other than the debtor or her or his family information affecting the debtor’s reputation, whether or not for credit worthiness, with knowledge or reason to know that the other person does not have a legitimate business need for the information or that the information is false.

(6) Disclose information concerning the existence of a debt known to be reasonably disputed by the debtor without disclosing that fact. If a disclosure is made before such dispute has been asserted and written notice is received from the debtor that any part of the debt is disputed, and if such dispute is reasonable, the person who made the original disclosure must reveal upon the request of the debtor within 30 days the details of the dispute to each person to whom disclosure of the debt without notice of the dispute was made within the preceding 90 days.

(7) Willfully communicate with the debtor or any member of her or his family with such frequency as can reasonably be expected to harass the debtor or her or his family, or willfully engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to abuse or harass the debtor or any member of her or his family.

(8) Use profane, obscene, vulgar, or willfully abusive language in communicating with the debtor or any member of her or his family.

(9) Claim, attempt, or threaten to enforce a debt when such person knows that the debt is not legitimate, or assert the existence of some other legal right when such person knows that the right does not exist.

(10) Use a communication that simulates in any manner legal or judicial process or that gives the appearance of being authorized, issued, or approved by a government, governmental agency, or attorney at law, when it is not.

(11) Communicate with a debtor under the guise of an attorney by using the stationery of an attorney or forms or instruments that only attorneys are authorized to prepare.

(12) Orally communicate with a debtor in a manner that gives the false impression or appearance that such person is or is associated with an attorney.

(13) Advertise or threaten to advertise for sale any debt as a means to enforce payment except under court order or when acting as an assignee for the benefit of a creditor.

(14) Publish or post, threaten to publish or post, or cause to be published or posted before the general public individual names or any list of names of debtors, commonly known as a deadbeat list, for the purpose of enforcing or attempting to enforce collection of consumer debts.

(15) Refuse to provide adequate identification of herself or himself or her or his employer or other entity whom she or he represents if requested to do so by a debtor from whom she or he is collecting or attempting to collect a consumer debt.

(16) Mail any communication to a debtor in an envelope or postcard with words typed, written, or printed on the outside of the envelope or postcard calculated to embarrass the debtor. An example of this would be an envelope addressed to “Deadbeat, Jane Doe” or “Deadbeat, John Doe.”

(17) Communicate with the debtor between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the debtor’s time zone without the prior consent of the debtor.
(a) The person may presume that the time a telephone call is received conforms to the local time zone assigned to the area code of the number called, unless the person reasonably believes that the debtor’s telephone is located in a different time zone.
(b) If, such as with toll-free numbers, an area code is not assigned to a specific geographic area, the person may presume that the time a telephone call is received conforms to the local time zone of the debtor’s last known place of residence, unless the person reasonably believes that the debtor’s telephone is located in a different time zone.

(18) Communicate with a debtor if the person knows that the debtor is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney’s name and address, unless the debtor’s attorney fails to respond within 30 days to a communication from the person, unless the debtor’s attorney consents to a direct communication with the debtor, or unless the debtor initiates the communication.

(19) Cause a debtor to be charged for communications by concealing the true purpose of the communication, including collect telephone calls and telegram fees.

Laws 1972, c. 72-81, § 18; Laws 1981, c. 81-314, § 1; Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 7. Amended by Laws 1997, c. 97-103, § 819, eff. July 1, 1997; Laws 2001, c. 2001-206, § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 4, eff. Oct. 1, 2010.

Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.725 Consumer complaints; administrative duties

(1) The office shall receive and maintain records of correspondence and complaints from consumers concerning any and all persons who collect debts, including consumer collection agencies.

(2) The office shall inform and furnish relevant information to the appropriate regulatory body of the state or the Federal Government, or The Florida Bar in the case of attorneys, if a person has been named in a consumer complaint pursuant to subsection (3) alleging violations of s. 559.72. The Attorney General may take action against any person in violation of this part.

(3) The complainant, subject to penalty of perjury as provided in s. 837.06, shall certify on a form approved by the Financial Services Commission a summary of the nature of the alleged violation and the facts that allegedly support the complaint, and shall submit the form to the office.

(4) The office shall investigate complaints and record the resolution of such complaints.

(5) The office shall advise the appropriate state attorney or the Attorney General of any determination by the office of a violation of this part by any consumer collection agency that is not registered as required by this part. The office shall furnish the state attorney or Attorney General with the office’s information concerning the alleged violations of such requirements.

(6) A registered consumer collection agency must provide a written response to the office within 45 days after receipt of a written request from the office for information concerning a consumer complaint. The response must address the issues and allegations raised in the complaint. The office may impose an administrative fine of up to $250 per request per day upon any registrant that fails to comply with this subsection.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 8. Amended by Laws 2003, c. 2003-261, § 681, eff. June 26, 2003; Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 5, eff. Oct. 1, 2010.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.726 Subpoenas

(1) The office may:
(a) Issue and serve subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of all books, accounts, records, and other documents and materials relevant to an investigation conducted by the office. The office, or its authorized representative, may administer oaths and affirmations to any person.
(b) Seek subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum from any court to command the appearance of witnesses and the production of books, accounts, records, and other documents or materials at a time and place named in the subpoenas, and an authorized representative of the office may serve such subpoenas.

(2) If there is substantial noncompliance with a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued by the office, the office may petition the court in the county where the person subpoenaed resides or has his or her principal place of business for an order requiring the person to appear, testify, or produce such books, accounts, records, and other documents as are specified in the subpoena or subpoena duces tecum.

(3) The office is entitled to the summary procedure provided in s. 51.011, and the court shall advance such cause on its calendar. Attorney’s fees and any other costs incurred by the office to obtain an order granting, in whole or in part, a petition for enforcement of a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum shall be taxed against the subpoenaed person, and failure to comply with such order is a contempt of court.

(4) To aid in the enforcement of this part, the office may require or permit a person to file a statement in writing, under oath, or otherwise as the office determines, as to all the facts and circumstances concerning the matter to be investigated.

Added by Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 6, eff. Oct. 1, 2010.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.727 Cease and desist orders

The office may issue and serve upon any person an order to cease and desist and to take corrective action if it has reason to believe the person is violating, has violated, or is about to violate any provision of this part, any rule or order issued under this part, or any written agreement between the person and the office. All procedural matters relating to issuance and enforcement of such order are governed by chapter 120.

Added by Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 2010.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.730 Grounds for disciplinary action; administrative remedies

(1) Each of the following acts constitutes a ground for which the disciplinary actions specified in subsection (2) may be taken against a person registered or required to be registered under this part:
(a) Failure to disburse funds in accordance with agreements.
(b) Fraud, misrepresentation, deceit, negligence, or incompetence in a collection transaction.
(c) Commission of fraud, misrepresentation, concealment, or dishonest dealing by trick, scheme, or device; culpable negligence; breach of trust in a business transaction in any state, nation, or territory; or aiding, assisting, or conspiring with another person engaged in such misconduct and in furtherance thereof.
(d) Being convicted of, or entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a felony or crime involving fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering, or act of moral turpitude.
(e) Having a final judgment entered against the registrant in a civil action upon grounds of fraud, embezzlement, misrepresentation, or deceit.
(f) Being the subject of a decision, finding, injunction, suspension, prohibition, revocation, denial, judgment, or administrative order by a court of competent jurisdiction or an administrative law judge, or by a state or federal agency, involving a violation of a federal or state law relating to debt collection or a rule or regulation adopted under such law.
(g) Having a license or registration, or the equivalent, to practice a profession or occupation denied, suspended, or revoked, or otherwise acted against, including the denial of a registration or license by a registration or licensing authority of this state or another state, territory, or country.
(h) Acting as a consumer collection agency without a current registration issued under this part.
(i) A material misstatement or omission of fact on an initial or amended registration application.
(j) Payment to the office for a registration or permit with a check or electronic transmission of funds, which is dishonored by the applicant’s or registrant’s financial institution.
(k) Failure to comply with, or a violation of, any provision of this part, or any rule or order made or issued pursuant to this part.
(l) Failure to maintain, preserve, and keep available for examination all books, accounts, or other documents required by this part and the rules of the commission.
(m) Refusal to permit an investigation or examination of books and records, or refusal to comply with an office subpoena or subpoena duces tecum.
(n) Failure to timely pay a fee, charge, or fine imposed or assessed pursuant to this part and the rules of the commission.

(2) If the office finds a person in violation of any act specified in this section, it may enter an order imposing one or more of the following penalties:
(a) Issuance of a reprimand.
(b) Suspension of a registration, subject to reinstatement upon satisfying all reasonable conditions imposed by the office.
(c) Revocation of a registration.
(d) Denial of a registration.
(e) Imposition of a fine of up to $10,000 for each count or separate offense.
(f) An administrative fine of up to $1,000 per day for each day that a person engages as a consumer collection agency without a valid registration issued under this part.

(3) The office may impose suspension rather than revocation of a registration if circumstances warrant that one or the other should be imposed and the registrant demonstrates that the registrant has taken affirmative steps that can be expected to effectively eliminate the violations and that the registrant’s registration has never been previously suspended.

(4) A consumer collection agency is subject to the disciplinary actions specified in subsection (2) for a violation of subsection (1) by a control person of the consumer collection agency.

(5) Pursuant to s. 120.60(6), the office may summarily suspend the registration of a consumer collection agency if the office has reason to believe that a registrant poses an immediate, serious danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare. The arrest of the registrant, or the consumer collection agency’s control person, for any felony or any crime involving fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering, or any other act of moral turpitude is deemed sufficient to constitute an immediate danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare. Any proceeding for the summary suspension of a registration must be conducted by the commissioner of the office, or designee, who shall issue the final summary order.

(6) The office may deny a request to terminate a registration or withdraw a registration application if the office believes that an act that would be a ground for registration denial, suspension, restriction, or revocation under this part has been committed.

(7) The commission shall adopt rules establishing guidelines for imposing administrative penalties.

(8) This part does not preclude any person from pursuing remedies available under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for any violation of such act.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 9; Laws 1996, c. 96-410, § 250. Amended by Laws 2003, c. 2003-261, § 682, eff. June 26, 2003; Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 8, eff. Oct. 1, 2010; Laws 2014, c. 2014-116, § 8, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.77 Civil remedies

(1) A debtor may bring a civil action against a person violating the provisions of s. 559.72 in the county in which the alleged violator resides or has his or her principal place of business or in the county where the alleged violation occurred.

(2) Any person who fails to comply with any provision of s. 559.72 is liable for actual damages and for additional statutory damages as the court may allow, but not exceeding $1,000, together with court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the plaintiff. In determining the defendant’s liability for any additional statutory damages, the court shall consider the nature of the defendant’s noncompliance with s. 559.72, the frequency and persistence of the noncompliance, and the extent to which the noncompliance was intentional. In a class action lawsuit brought under this section, the court may award additional statutory damages of up to $1,000 for each named plaintiff and an aggregate award of additional statutory damages up to the lesser of $500,000 or 1 percent of the defendant’s net worth for all remaining class members; however, the aggregate award may not provide an individual class member with additional statutory damages in excess of $1,000. The court may award punitive damages and may provide such equitable relief as it deems necessary or proper, including enjoining the defendant from further violations of this part. If the court finds that the suit fails to raise a justiciable issue of law or fact, the plaintiff is liable for court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the defendant.

(3) A person may not be held liable in any action brought under this section if the person shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error, notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid such error.

(4) An action brought under this section must be commenced within 2 years after the date the alleged violation occurred.

(5) In applying and construing this section, due consideration and great weight shall be given to the interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts relating to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.1

Laws 1972, c. 72-81, § 23; Laws 1978, c. 78-95, § 9; Laws 1981, c. 81-314, § 3; Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 10. Amended by Laws 1997, c. 97-103, § 820, eff. July 1, 1997; Laws 2001, c. 2001-206, § 2, eff. July 1, 2001; Laws 2010, c. 2010-127, § 9, eff. Oct. 1, 2010.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.78 Judicial enforcement

In addition to other penalties provided in this part, state attorneys and their assistants are authorized to apply to the court of competent jurisdiction within their respective jurisdictions, upon the sworn affidavit of any person alleging a violation of any of the provisions of this part. Such court shall have jurisdiction, upon hearing and for cause shown, to grant a temporary or permanent injunction restraining any person from violating any provision of this part, whether or not there exists an adequate remedy at law; and such injunction, suspension, or revocation shall issue without bond.

Laws 1972, c. 72-81, § 24; Laws 1973, c. 73-334, § 26; Laws 1981, c. 81-314, § 2; Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 11.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

West’s F.S.A. § 559.785 Criminal penalty

It shall be a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, for any person not exempt from registering as provided in this part to engage in collecting consumer debts in this state without first registering with the office, or to register or attempt to register by means of fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment.

Laws 1993, c. 93-275, § 12. Amended by Laws 2003, c. 2003-261, § 683, eff. June 26, 2003.
Current through the 2018 Second Regular Session of the 25th Legislature.

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