Florida Credit Repair

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PART III
CREDIT SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS

817.7001Definitions.
817.7005Prohibited acts.
817.701Surety bonds; exemption.
817.702Statement to buyer.
817.703Information statement.
817.704Provisions of contract.
817.705Waivers; burden of proof; penalties.
817.706Actions for damages.

817.7001 Definitions.—As used in this part:
(1) “Buyer” means any individual who is solicited to purchase, or who purchases, the services of a credit service organization.
(2)(a) “Credit service organization” means any person who, with respect to the extension of credit by others, sells, provides, performs, or represents that he or she can or will sell, provide, or perform, in return for the payment of money or other valuable consideration, any of the following services:
1. Improving a buyer’s credit record, history, or rating;
2. Obtaining an extension of credit for a buyer; or
3. Providing advice or assistance to a buyer with regard to the services described in either subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2.
(b) “Credit service organization” does not include:
1. Any person authorized to make loans or extensions of credit under the laws of this state or the United States who is subject to regulation and supervision by this state or the United States or a lender approved by the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for participation in any mortgage insurance program under the National Housing Act;
2. Any bank, savings bank, or savings and loan association whose deposits or accounts are eligible for insurance by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, or a subsidiary of such bank, savings bank, or savings and loan association;
3. Any credit union, federal credit union, or out-of-state credit union doing business in this state;
4. Any nonprofit organization exempt from taxation under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code;
5. Any person licensed as a real estate broker by this state if the person is acting within the course and scope of that license;
6. Any person collecting consumer claims pursuant to s. 559.72;
7. Any person licensed to practice law in this state if the person renders services within the course and scope of his or her practice as an attorney and does not engage in the credit service business on a regular and continuing basis;
8. Any broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission if the broker-dealer is acting within the course and scope of that regulation; or
9. Any consumer reporting agency as defined in the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. ss. 1681-1681t.
(3) “Extension of credit” means the right to defer payment of debt or to incur debt and defer its payment offered or granted primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204.

817.7005 Prohibited acts.—A credit service organization, its salespersons, agents, and representatives, and independent contractors who sell or attempt to sell the services of a credit service organization shall not do any of the following:
(1) Charge or receive any money or other valuable consideration prior to full and complete performance of the services the credit service organization has agreed to perform for the buyer, unless the credit service organization has obtained a surety bond of $10,000 issued by a surety company admitted to do business in this state and has established a trust account at a federally insured bank or savings and loan association located in this state; however, where a credit service organization has obtained a surety bond and established a trust account as provided herein, the credit service organization may charge or receive money or other valuable consideration prior to full and complete performance of the services it has agreed to perform for the buyer but shall deposit all money or other valuable consideration received in its trust account until the full and complete performance of the services it has agreed to perform for the buyer;
(2) Charge or receive any money or other valuable consideration solely for referral of the buyer to a retail seller or to any other credit grantor, who will or may extend credit to the buyer if the credit that is or will be extended to the buyer is upon substantially the same terms as those available to the general public;
(3) Make, or counsel or advise any buyer to make, any statement that is false or misleading or that should be known by the exercise of reasonable care to be false or misleading, or omit any material fact to a consumer reporting agency or to any person who has extended credit to a buyer or to whom a buyer is applying for an extension of credit with respect to a buyer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity; or
(4) Make or use any false or misleading representations or omit any material fact in the offer or sale of the services of a credit service organization or engage, directly or indirectly, in any act, practice, or course of business that operates or would operate as fraud or deception upon any person in connection with the offer or sale of the services of a credit service organization, notwithstanding the absence of reliance by the buyer.
History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204.

817.701 Surety bonds; exemption.—The requirement to obtain a surety bond and establish a trust account as provided in s. 817.7005(1) shall be waived for any salesperson, agent, or representative of a credit service organization where the credit service organization obtains such surety bond and establishes such trust account.
History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204.

817.702 Statement to buyer.—Upon execution of the contract as provided in s. 817.704 or agreement between the buyer and a credit service organization and before the receipt by the credit service organization of any money or other valuable consideration, whichever occurs first, the credit service organization shall provide the buyer with a statement, in writing, containing all the information required by s. 817.703. The credit service organization shall maintain on file for a period of 5 years an exact copy of the statement, personally signed by the buyer, acknowledging receipt of a copy of the statement.
History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204.

817.703 Information statement.—The information statement required under s. 817.702 shall include all of the following:
(1)(a) A complete and accurate statement of the buyer’s right to review any file on the buyer maintained by any consumer reporting agency, as provided under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. ss. 1681-1681t;
(b) A statement that the buyer may review his or her consumer reporting agency file at no charge if a request is made to the consumer reporting agency within 30 days after receiving notice that credit has been denied; and
(c) The approximate price the buyer will be charged by the consumer reporting agency to review his or her consumer reporting agency file.
(2) A complete and accurate statement of the buyer’s right to dispute directly with a consumer reporting agency the completeness or accuracy of any item contained in any file on the buyer maintained by the consumer reporting agency.
(3) A statement that accurate information cannot be permanently removed from the file of a consumer reporting agency.
(4) A complete and detailed description of the service to be performed by the credit service organization for the buyer and the total amount the buyer will have to pay, or become obligated to pay, for the services.
(5) A statement notifying the buyer of his or her right to proceed against the bond or trust account required under s. 817.7005.
(6) The name and address of the surety company which issued the bond, or the name and address of the depository and the trustee and the account number of the trust account.
History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204; s. 1274, ch. 97-102.

817.704 Provisions of contract.—(1) Each contract between the buyer and a credit service organization for the purchase of the services of the credit service organization shall be in writing, dated, signed by the buyer, and shall include all of the following:
(a) A conspicuous statement in boldfaced type, in immediate proximity to the space reserved for the signature of the buyer, as follows: “You, the buyer, may cancel this contract at any time prior to midnight of the fifth day after the date of the transaction. See the attached notice of cancellation form for an explanation of this right”;
(b) The terms and conditions of payment, including the total of all payments to be made by the buyer, specifying the amount of the payments to be made to the credit service organization or to some other person;
(c) A full and detailed description of the services to be performed by the credit service organization for the buyer, including all guarantees and all promises of full or partial refunds, and the estimated date by which the services are to be performed or the estimated length of time for performing the services; and
(d) The credit service organization’s principal business address and the name and address of its agent in the state authorized to receive service of process.
(2) The contract shall be accompanied by a completed form in duplicate, captioned “Notice of Cancellation,” that shall be attached to the contract, be easily detachable, and contain in boldfaced type the following statement written in the same language used in the contract:
NOTICE OF CANCELLATION

You may cancel this contract, without any penalty or obligation, within 5 days from the date the contract is signed.

If you cancel any payment made by you under this contract, it will be returned within 10 days following receipt by the credit service organization of your cancellation notice.

To cancel this contract, mail or deliver a signed dated copy of this cancellation notice, or any other written notice to:

(name of credit service organization) at

(address of credit service organization) ,

(place of business) not later than midnight

(date) .

I hereby cancel this transaction (date) .

(purchaser’s signature) .

The credit service organization shall give to the buyer a copy of the completed contract and all other documents the credit service organization requires the buyer to sign at the time they are signed.

History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204.

817.705 Waivers; burden of proof; penalties.—(1) Any waiver by a buyer of any part of this part is void. Any attempt by a credit service organization to have a buyer waive rights given by this part is a violation of this part.
(2) In any proceeding involving this part, the burden of proving an exemption or an exception from a definition is upon the person claiming it.
(3) Any person who violates this part is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(4) This section does not prohibit the enforcement by any person of any right provided by this or any other law.
History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204.

817.706 Actions for damages.—(1) Any buyer injured by a violation of this part may bring an action for recovery of damages. Judgment shall be entered for actual damages, but in no case less than the amount paid by the buyer to the credit service organization, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. An award may also be entered for punitive damages.
(2) Any buyer injured by a violation of this part may bring an action against the surety bond or trust account of the credit service organization.
(3) The remedies provided under this part are in addition to any other procedures or remedies for any violation or conduct provided for in any other law.
History.—s. 1, ch. 87-204.