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The Side Bar – Volume XII, Issue 12

The Side Bar – Volume XII, Issue 12

December, 2014

 

From Lenny’s Corner

The electronic invitation to Stetson Law School’s February 2014 Inclusion Summit begins with this quote from Verna Myer: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” How clever and vivid is that imagery!  As we exchange gifts, imbibe in cheer and enjoy this holiday season, perhaps Myer’s quote will help us put our money where our mouth is, and enable us to not just talk the talk, but indeed walk the walk. More, it might help us step out on the dance floor.

 


Collection Practices That Expose Your Business To Liability

Although there are many benefits to being your own boss, the downside to being a business owner is dealing with collection issues. When collecting from consumers, it is important to make sure you comply with Florida’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). This article gives an overview of which collection practices are prohibited under Florida law and could expose your business to liability for actual damages, statutory damages, punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Is My Business Subject To Florida’s FDCPA?

Florida’s FDCPA contains provisions that apply to anyone collecting consumer debt. Florida law defines consumer debt as “any obligation…of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which…the subject of the transaction [is] primarily for personal, family, or household purposes…” Common consumer stores and services include retail stores, lawn service, and homeowner’s insurance.

What Are The Prohibited Collection Practices Under Florida Law?

The following are some examples of prohibited collection practices: (i) communication with a debtor known to be represented by an attorney; (ii) communication with a debtor between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.; (iii) use of profane, vulgar, obscene or abusive language with the debtor or his/her family; and (iv) publishing a “deadbeats list”. A deadbeats list sounds extreme, but it is not uncommon. In fact, I recently saw one affixed to a store’s counter top near the register. The list was clearly visible and identified six individuals that have bounced checks.

Collection is an essential part of operating a business, and being informed about the legal parameters is crucial. Although this article gives a few tips about Florida’s FDCPA, it is important to consult an attorney to ensure your business is in compliance. Should you have any further questions regarding Florida’s debt collection laws, please call Englander Fischer to see how one of our attorneys can assist you.


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