Florida Legislature Requires Background Checks for Third-Party Debt Collectors
Beginning October 1, 2014, Florida residents with unpaid debts will enjoy new protections against abusive practices by third-party debt collection agencies in the state, under two pieces of legislation recently signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Florida residents have always had the protections of federal statutes and regulations such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), as well as the option to call on the assistance of an experienced debt collection practices attorney. Now, however, a few new protections will be added to the books, strengthening the position of Florida residents who find themselves harassed by debt collectors.
The bills signed into law include:
HB 413. This new law requires consumer collection agencies to perform background checks and fingerprinting of potential employees. Debt collectors handle sensitive consumer information as well as handling funds. The new law is intended to strengthen security and confidentiality measures by screening employees before they start to handle debtor’s personal information or financial transactions.
Breaches of consumer financial data have been a major concern recently, with banks, major retailers, and even colleges coming under fire for lax security measures that left personal and financial information vulnerable. HB 413 inserts an additional measure of protection for consumer data.
SB 590. This bill originated in the state Senate as a way to expand protections for Florida residents who use check cashing and payday lending services. While not related to third-party debt collection specifically, it does authorize the state Office of Financial Regulation to suspend the licenses of money services businesses in certain cases of criminal misconduct. It also prohibits an unauthorized lender from enforcing or collecting on a payday loan in Florida.
I’m Being Harassed by Debt Collectors. What Should I Do?
First, know your rights and recognize the most common threats debt collectors make. If any of these sound familiar to you, a debt collector may well be violating your rights. You have the power to make these violations stop, and in some cases, you may even be able to recover damages.
Second, don’t hesitate to talk to an experienced attorney. Unlike debt collectors or companies that offer to settle your debt for you, attorneys are required to meet high standards for continuing education and confidentiality. Attorneys who regularly represent people harassed by debt collectors have seen all the tactics debt buyers use – and they know how to confront them head-on.
At Disparti Law Group, our Florida attorneys help you protect your legal rights and stop abusive debt collection practices in their tracks. Contact us today to learn more.