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consumer law

Dealing with bill collectors
365 548 Cynthia Conlin

What can bill collectors *not* get away with?

Collection of debts in Florida is regulated by both federal law (the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and state law (the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, or the “FCCPA”).

The FCCPA enumerates 19 different things that people may not do in Florida when collecting a debt. Violation of this law can bring forth a civil cause of action against the person collecting the debt.

Junk Faxes
548 365 Cynthia Conlin

Illinois Attorney sued for sending Junk Faxes

At first, Attorney Gregory P. Turza probably thought it was a great business decision when he hired a company to create a promotional newsletter called the “Daily Plan-It” and distribute it to a targeted list, which included numbers from the Illinois CPA Society and his business contacts.

When one of his “Daily Plan It” fax recipients filed a class action lawsuit against the attorney, his marketing strategy turned into a disaster. On behalf of the class of recipients of the faxes, the Plaintiff sought $4,215,000 in statutory damages – $500 for each fax multiplied by the alleged 8,430 times the Daily Plan-It was faxed – against Attorney Turza, who is located in Skokie, Illinois.

collectors
721 481 Cynthia Conlin

Collection agencies that fail to register with state of Florida may expose themselves to potential litigation

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.