Florida Senate - 2023 SB 128 By Senator Rodriguez 40-00123A-23 2023128__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to contacting consumer debtors; 3 amending s. 559.565, F.S.; specifying that persons who 4 violate specified provisions of law are subject to 5 sanctions in the same manner as any other consumer 6 debt collector; creating s. 559.721, F.S.; defining 7 the term “creditor”; prohibiting creditors from 8 contacting debtors regarding specified types of debt 9 under certain circumstances; providing applicability; 10 providing construction; amending s. 559.725, F.S.; 11 requiring the Office of Financial Regulation of the 12 Financial Services Commission to inform and furnish 13 relevant information to the appropriate regulatory 14 body of the state, the Federal Government, or The 15 Florida Bar if a person has been named in a certain 16 consumer complaint alleging specified violations of 17 law; amending s. 559.77, F.S.; authorizing debtors to 18 bring civil actions against creditors who violate the 19 act; specifying that violators are liable for 20 specified damages, costs, and fees; providing an 21 effective date. 22 23 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 24 25 Section 1. Subsection (2) of section 559.565, Florida 26 Statutes, is amended to read: 27 559.565 Enforcement action against out-of-state consumer 28 debt collector.—The remedies of this section are cumulative to 29 other sanctions and enforcement provisions of this part for any 30 violation by an out-of-state consumer debt collector, as defined 31 in s. 559.55(11). 32 (2) A person, whether or not exempt from registration under 33 this part, who violates s. 559.72 or s. 559.721 is subject to 34 sanctions the same as any other consumer debt collector, 35 including imposition of an administrative fine. The registration 36 of a duly registered out-of-state consumer debt collector is 37 subject to revocation or suspension in the same manner as the 38 registration of any other registrant under this part. 39 Section 2. Section 559.721, Florida Statutes, is created to 40 read: 41 559.721 Prohibitions on contacting debtors who are victims 42 of certain crimes.— 43 (1) As used in this section, the term “creditor” means a 44 person required to be registered under s. 559.553. 45 (2) In collecting consumer debts, a creditor may not: 46 (a) Contact a debtor regarding a debt that arises from 47 documented elder and economic abuse. 48 1. Documented elder and economic abuse occurs when: 49 a. The debtor, or a person with fiduciary responsibility to 50 the debtor, has alleged in a police report that the debtor has 51 been the victim of elder abuse by a specified alleged 52 perpetrator; and 53 b. The debtor, or a person with fiduciary responsibility to 54 the debtor, provides the creditor with a signed affidavit, 55 swearing under penalty of perjury that the following are true: 56 (I) The debtor was the victim of elder abuse as documented 57 in a police report; 58 (II) As a result of the alleged abuse, the debtor was 59 compelled to incur debt or was provided credit that the debtor 60 would not otherwise have incurred in the absence of the abuse, 61 including, but not limited to, the debtor’s identity being 62 stolen; and 63 (III) The debt that is the subject of the creditor’s 64 contact with the debtor was incurred solely because of elder 65 abuse. 66 2. The prohibition in this paragraph applies: 67 a. For 2 years after the affidavit under sub-subparagraph 68 1.b. is provided to the creditor; or 69 b. Indefinitely, if the perpetrator has been convicted of a 70 crime relating to elder abuse arising from the conduct 71 referenced in the police report. 72 (b) Contact a debtor regarding a debt that arises from 73 documented human trafficking and economic abuse. 74 1. Documented human trafficking and economic abuse occur 75 when: 76 a. Official documentation as defined in s. 943.0583 shows 77 at least one incident of human trafficking has occurred in which 78 the debtor is listed as a victim or in which the debtor received 79 relocation assistance under s. 960.196; and 80 b. The debtor provides the creditor with a signed 81 affidavit, swearing under penalty of perjury that the following 82 are true: 83 (I) The debtor was the victim of human trafficking as 84 documented in a police report or there has been a determination 85 that the debtor should receive relocation assistance under s. 86 960.196; 87 (II) As a result of human trafficking, the debtor was 88 compelled to incur debt or was provided credit that the debtor 89 would not otherwise have incurred in the absence of the abuse, 90 including instances in which the debtor’s identity has been 91 stolen; and 92 (III) The debt that is the subject of the creditor’s 93 contact with the debtor was incurred solely because of and 94 during the period of human trafficking. 95 2. The prohibition in this paragraph applies: 96 a. For 2 years after the affidavit under sub-subparagraph 97 1.b. is provided to the creditor; or 98 b. Indefinitely, if the perpetrator has been convicted of a 99 crime relating to human trafficking as alleged in the police 100 report. 101 (c) Contact a debtor regarding debts that arise from 102 documented identity theft. Documented identity theft occurs 103 when: 104 1. The debtor provides the creditor with a Federal Trade 105 Commission identity theft report stating that he or she is the 106 victim of identity theft; and 107 2. The debtor provides the creditor with a signed 108 affidavit, swearing that the following are true: 109 a. The debtor was the victim of identity theft as 110 documented in a Federal Trade Commission identity theft report; 111 b. As a result of identity theft, the debt was incurred in 112 the debtor’s name but in no way benefited the debtor; and 113 c. The debt that is the subject of the creditor’s contact 114 with the debtor was incurred solely because of identity theft. 115 (d) Contact a debtor upon receiving notice that the debtor 116 is protected by an injunction for protection against 117 exploitation of a vulnerable adult under s. 825.1035. 118 (e) Contact a debtor regarding debts that arose when the 119 debtor was in foster care. This prohibition applies after the 120 debtor provides the creditor with a signed affidavit, swearing 121 under penalty of perjury that the following are true: 122 1. The debtor was in foster care as defined in s. 39.01; 123 and 124 2. The debt that is the subject of the creditor’s contact 125 with the debtor was incurred during the time when the debtor was 126 in foster care. 127 (3) This section may not be construed or interpreted in any 128 manner to discharge an individual from a debt he or she may have 129 incurred as a result of a crime. 130 Section 3. Subsection (2) of section 559.725, Florida 131 Statutes, is amended to read: 132 559.725 Consumer complaints; administrative duties.— 133 (2) The office shall inform and furnish relevant 134 information to the appropriate regulatory body of the state or 135 the Federal Government, or The Florida Bar in the case of 136 attorneys, if a person has been named in a consumer complaint 137 pursuant to subsection (3) alleging violations of s. 559.72 or 138 s. 559.721. The Attorney General may take action against any 139 person in violation of this part. 140 Section 4. Subsections (1) and (2) of section 559.77, 141 Florida Statutes, are amended to read: 142 559.77 Civil remedies.— 143 (1) A debtor may bring a civil action against a person 144 violating
the provisions ofs. 559.72 or s. 559.721 in the 145 county in which the alleged violator resides or has his or her 146 principal place of business or in the county where the alleged 147 violation occurred. 148 (2) Any person who fails to comply with any provision of s. 149 559.72 or s. 559.721 is liable for actual damages and for 150 additional statutory damages as the court may allow, but not 151 exceeding $1,000, together with court costs and reasonable 152 attorney attorney’sfees incurred by the plaintiff. In 153 determining the defendant’s liability for any additional 154 statutory damages, the court shall consider the nature of the 155 defendant’s noncompliance with s. 559.72 or s. 559.721, the 156 frequency and persistence of the noncompliance, and the extent 157 to which the noncompliance was intentional. In a class action 158 lawsuit brought under this section, the court may award 159 additional statutory damages of up to $1,000 for each named 160 plaintiff and an aggregate award of additional statutory damages 161 up to the lesser of $500,000 or 1 percent of the defendant’s net 162 worth for all remaining class members; however, the aggregate 163 award may not provide an individual class member with additional 164 statutory damages in excess of $1,000. The court may award 165 punitive damages and may provide such equitable relief as it 166 deems necessary or proper, including enjoining the defendant 167 from further violations of this part. If the court finds that 168 the suit fails to raise a justiciable issue of law or fact, the 169 plaintiff is liable for court costs and reasonable attorney 170 attorney’sfees incurred by the defendant. 171 Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2023.