It’s no secret, with the falling economy, that collection practices and lawsuits against debt collectors have been on the rise. One recent court decision may have given consumers in Florida even more protections from unscrupulous creditors.
In Florida, like in many states, debt collectors must comply with at least two bodies of statutory law. First, there is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law enacted by Congress in 1978 that establishes general standards of conduct, defines and restricts abusive collection practices, and provides specific rights for consumers. Next, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), a state law enacted by the Florida legislature in 1993, gives consumers additional protections.
With some exemptions, the state act (specifically, Fla. Stat. § 559.555) requires collection agencies engaging in business within the state of Florida to register with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. To register, they must pay a $200.00 fee and provide certain information to the Office, and they must renew their registration annually. Although the state act allows consumers to sue debt collectors for various other reasons, it provides no private right of action for a consumer to sue a debt collector for its failure to register.
However, a few months ago, in LeBlanc v. Unifund CCR Partners, 601 F.3d 1185 (11th Cir. 2010), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed whether a consumer in Florida could, pursuant to the federal act, sue a collection agency for its failure to register with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation in violation of the state act.