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Under Florida law if at the time of default (when you stopped paying and they took the car, if the unpaid balance was less than $2,000, the car lender, and any subsequent collection companies, cannot try to collect a deficiency from you. That’s under Florida Statutes Annotated §516.31(3).
If it was over $2,000, then the statute of limitation for filing an action in court is 5 years.
The limitations period begins from the date the last element of the cause of action occurred, Keep in mind that the limitation period is tolled (stopped) for any period during which the debtor is absent from the state and each time a voluntary payment is made on a debt arising from a written instrument. So if you made any agreements either in writing or verbally the SOL starts ticking again.
If a collection company or a debt buyer that has taken over the debt, files a lawsuit on a debt where the statute of limitations has expired, you can have the case dismissed, and you can counterclaim for a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), which protects you from abusive debt collection practices. The FCCPA prohibits creditors and debt collectors from engaging in abusive, harassing, unfair, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading practices. (If the debt is still valid it can remain on your credit report for 7 years from the date of the default).
If the debt collector is engaging in fraudulent or harassing behavior then you have a private cause of action under the FCCPA. This means that you can file a lawsuit in Florida against the collector or creditor. If you win, the court may award to you, actual damages, statutory damages not to exceed $1,000, possible punitive damages (at the judge's discretion), and attorney’s fees and court costs.
You can also file a complaint with Florida's Office of Financial Regulation. Here is the link to their complaint form. http://www.flofr.com/StaticPages/FileAComplaint.htm
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