Section 559.725, Florida Statutes 2001
559.725 Consumer complaints; administrative duties.--
(1) The Division of Consumer Services shall serve as the registry for receiving and maintaining records of inquiries, correspondence, and complaints from consumers concerning any and all persons who collect debts, including consumer collection agencies.
(2) The division shall classify complaints by type and identify the number of written complaints against persons collecting or attempting to collect debts in this state, including credit grantors collecting their own debts, debt collectors generally, and, specifically, consumer collection agencies as distinguished from other persons who collect debts such as commercial debt collection agencies regulated under part V of this chapter. The division shall identify the nature and number of various kinds of written complaints, including specifically those alleging violations of s. 559.72.
(3) The division shall inform and furnish relevant information to the appropriate regulatory body of the state, or The Florida Bar in the case of attorneys, when any consumer debt collector exempt from registration under this part has been named in five or more written consumer complaints alleging violations of s. 559.72 within a 12-month period.
(4) The division shall furnish a form to each complainant whose complaint concerns an alleged violation of s. 559.72 by a consumer collection agency. Such form may be filed with the Department of Banking and Finance. The form shall identify the accused consumer collection agency and provide for the complainant's summary of the nature of the alleged violation and facts which allegedly support the complaint. The form shall include a provision for the complainant to state under oath before a notary public that the allegations therein made are true.
(5) Upon receipt of such sworn complaint, the department shall promptly furnish a copy of the sworn complaint to the accused consumer collection agency.
(6) The department shall investigate sworn complaints by direct written communication with the complainant and the affected consumer collection agency. In addition, the department shall attempt to resolve each sworn complaint and shall record the resolution of such complaints.
(7) Periodically, the department shall identify consumer collection agencies that have unresolved sworn consumer complaints from five or more different consumers within a 12-month period under the provisions of this part.
(8) The department shall issue a written warning notice to the accused consumer collection agency if the department is unable to resolve all such sworn complaints and fewer than five unresolved complaints remain. Such notice shall include a statement that the warning may constitute evidence in any future investigation of similar complaints against that agency and in any future administrative determination of the imposition of other administrative remedies available to the department under this part.
(9) The department may issue a written reprimand when five or more such unresolved sworn complaints against a consumer collection agency collectively fall short of constituting apparent repeated violations that warrant more serious administrative sanctions. Such reprimand shall include a statement that the reprimand may constitute evidence in any future investigation of similar complaints against that agency and in any future administrative determination of the imposition of other administrative remedies available to the department.
(10) The department shall issue a notice of intent either to revoke or suspend the registration or to impose an administrative fine when the department preliminarily determines that repeated violations of s. 559.72 by an accused registrant have occurred which would warrant more serious administrative sanctions being imposed under this part. The department shall advise each registrant of the right to require an administrative hearing under chapter 120, prior to the agency's final action on the matter as authorized by s. 559.730.
(11) The department shall advise the appropriate state attorney, or the Attorney General in the case of an out-of-state consumer debt collector, of any determination by the department of a violation of the requirements of this part by any consumer collection agency which is not registered as required by this part. The department shall furnish the state attorney or Attorney General with the department's information concerning the alleged violations of such requirements.
History.--ss. 8, 13, ch. 93-275.