What Happens If Credit Cards Are Not Paid in Florida?
Credit Rating Impact
- The initial impact of consumers not paying their credit cards in Florida and other states is a decline in their credit rating. Credit card creditors report repayment information to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the main agencies which track, compile and compute credit ratings. Late and delinquent payments can significantly lower a consumer credit rating. Repayment information can account for up to 35 percent of the overall rating. Each month that a Florida consumer does not pay credit cards results in another negative entry on their credit report. Negative entries may remain on a credit report for seven years.
- Florida consumers who do not pay their credit cards can expect contact from the original creditors in-house collection team or a third-party debt collector working on behalf of the original creditor. After six months, more or less, of a consumer not paying on the credit card account, the original creditor may sell the credit card debt to a debt buyer, another third-party collector. The FDCPA outlines rules of consumer contact by third-party debt collectors. Contact from third-party collectors may be in the form of personal visits, telephone calls, telegrams and letters---via email, postal mail and fax. Florida law gives consumers the option to stop third-party debt collectors from contacting them. Collection contact must stop if consumers send the third-party collector a request in writing to cease contact. The third-party collector has the right to contact the consumer once more to alert them to a specific action, such as a lawsuit, or to verify that the contact will cease.
Lawsuit and Judgment
- In Florida, creditors and third-party debt collectors have a four-year window to sue consumers who do not pay their credit cards. The four-year statute of limitations begins on the day of the last credit card activity by the consumer. For example, if a consumer in Florida made the last payment on a credit card on Sept. 20, 2009, the original creditor or third-party debt collector has until Sept. 20, 2013 to file a lawsuit for the outstanding debt. If the creditor or collection agency wins the lawsuit, the court will issue a judgment against the consumer. In Florida, when a collector wins a judgment against a consumer, the collector then files a judgment lien with the state. Judgment liens are valid for 20 years in Florida.
- After seven years, Florida consumers can dispute any negative credit card payments and information still listed on their credit reports with the three credit reporting agencies. The listings should fall off the the records automatically, but consumers should monitor the situation for accuracy. The FDCPA stipulates that the negative information must be deleted after seven years. Florid judgment liens may remain on the credit report for 20 years, as long as the judgment is valid.