When you are suffering under a pile of debt in Florida, you should be aware that Florida law provides you with rights and options for resolving your debts. If you are looking for options for debt relief, contact our Florida debt relief lawyers at Loan Lawyers.
We are a total debt solution firm. We provide you with alternatives to simply proceeding with bankruptcy. Our firm has the knowledge and resources to provide you with solutions that will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your specific case.
Our attorneys make full use of legal protections and debt programs to help you resolve your debts so that you can live your life without worry. Contact us now for a free and confidential consultation.
What Is the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act?
In Florida, businesses are prohibited by law from making false claims, using disinformation, or using other misleading tactics to make a sale. This law is called the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and it regulates a wide range of industries, such as consumer products, real estate, and credit cards.
Specific practices prohibited by the Act can vary depending on the particular industry.
A lawsuit under the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practice Act can be brought either by the Florida Attorney General or by a private citizen who was a victim of deceptive or unfair trade practices. It is also possible for an alleged debtor to counterclaim a credit card or other finance company’s violation of the Act as a defense to that company’s lawsuit against the debtor.
If a jury or the court determines that there has been a violation of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the victim may be entitled to various potential remedies, including:
- Monetary damages, if a company acted in bad faith and the debtor can prove they suffered some financial loss through the company’s deceptive trade practices
- Injunctive relief, which orders a company to take, or refrain from taking, a certain action
- Declaratory judgment, which is a court determination of the rights and duties a lender and debtor owe to one another
In addition, if a credit card or finance company has committed intentional deceptive or unfair trade practices, a court may also impose a civil fine and award attorneys’ fees and court costs to the alleged debtor.
Florida Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection
Under Florida law, banks, credit card companies, and other finance companies have a limited period to file a lawsuit in order to recover a past-due or defaulted debt. This period is called the “statute of limitations.” If a lawsuit is not filed within the “statute of limitations, it can be dismissed by the court.
The statute of limitations in Florida on debt collection varies, depending on the type of debt involved:
- Debts arising from written contracts and promissory notes – 5 years
- Debts arising from oral contracts and debts from open-ended accounts (such as credit cards) – 4 years
- Judgment collections – 20 years
- Judgment liens – 10 years, with an option to extend for another 10 years
There are certain kinds of debts, such as federal student loan debts, that are not subject to a statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for debt collection typically begins to run from the date of your last payment. If you make even a small, nominal payment on a debt, or just acknowledge that you owe the debt, it can restart the clock for the statute of limitations.
Once the statute of limitations has expired on your debt, the lender or a debt collector can still legally contact you to try to collect the debt. But they must cease contacting you if you request that they do so.
A lender or debt collection agency can also file a lawsuit to collect the debt, but if the statute of limitations has expired, that lawsuit can dismissed as untimely. It is important to note that, even if a debt cannot be collected by a lawsuit, it can still be reported to the credit reporting bureaus, where it will appear on your credit report for up to seven years.
What You Need to Know about Florida Debt Relief Programs
If you and your family are buried under a crushing amount of debt in Florida, you may be eligible for various debt relief programs, depending on the type of debt:
- Debt management – When your debt mostly consists of high-interest credit card debt, a debt management program can help bring payments under control. Credit counselors can contact the credit card companies to reduce the interest on your debts, helping you establish budgets to keep your finances on track and slowly pay down your debts. You should understand that debt management programs can last for years, so it can be difficult to stick with the financial restrictions of such programs for an extended period of time.
- Debt consolidation loans – A debt consolidation loan is a loan from a single issuer that is used to pay off your outstanding debts from multiple sources, so that you have only one regular payment. The interest on a debt consolidation loan is often far lower than the total interest rates on multiple credit cards or revolving credit accounts. Remember though, that if you have sub-prime credit, a debt consolidation loan can be more expensive than your existing debts.
- Debt negotiation – Debt negotiation programs are often an alternative to bankruptcy. In such programs, you are provided temporary relief from your debt payments, instead making payments into an escrow account, while a negotiation team works on your behalf to reach a settlement with your creditors for a reduction in the balance of your debts. The reduced amounts are then paid off by your escrow account. It is important to note that debt negotiation and settlement can negatively impact your credit score and may result in tax liabilities.
- Mortgage restructuring or refinancing – If you are unable to afford the mortgage on your house, the bank will typically offer a loan modification program, governed by state and federal law, that will restructure and refinance your mortgage to provide you with a manageable payment. You will typically be required to make payments during a trial period, while the bank considers a modification. Bear in mind that the bank is not obligated to grant you a modification and will not do so if it determines that your finances are not strong enough to support any viable modification.
Talk to a Florida Debt Relief Lawyer Now
If you find yourself unable to manage your debts, talk to a Florida debt relief lawyer at Loan Lawyers today. Our legal team can help you understand your rights under the law, and explain the options available to you for resolving your debt and putting your finances back on track.
Contact us to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our knowledgeable debt relief attorneys.