Florida Debt Relief + the Best Debt Consolidation Companies

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Florida’s total debt per capita is about $1,299, not including mortgage debt or student loans. Although it’s not the highest in terms of consumer debt, many Floridians struggle to repay what they owe. If you’re one of them, here’s everything you need to know about paying off your debts and becoming debt-free.

Do you qualify for debt consolidation?

Credit Summit may be able to help.

Florida Ranks 13th for Consumer Debt

The average consumer debt in Florida was $84,926 in 2021, up 4.2% from the previous year. This includes things like mortgage debt, student loans, credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, and payday loans.

Fortunately, Florida debt relief is available to residents of The Sunshine State. Floridians can benefit from debt consolidation loans, debt management programs, debt settlement, and other forms of debt relief.

Other Florida Debt Statistics

Here are some of the current statistics on Florida debt and credit:

  • Average credit card debt per household: $6,460
  • Average credit card utilization ratio: 28% (down from 32%)
  • Total outstanding student loan debt: $98.3 billion or $35,496 per borrower
  • Average credit score: 707 (nationwide average is 714)
  • Average credit card debt per household: $6,460
  • Average credit card utilization ratio: 28% (down from 32%)
  • Total outstanding student loan debt: $98.3 billion or $35,496 per borrower
  • Average credit score: 707 (nationwide average is 714)

The Best Debt Consolidation Companies in Florida (Updated 2022)

It’s not always easy to find a legitimate debt consolidation company. However, reputable companies should be licensed in your state. They should also ideally belong to a recognized trade association like the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Each of the following lenders is licensed, reputable, and offers Florida debt relief services to consumers.

Premier Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc.

Premier Consumer Credit Counseling was established as part of a volunteer effort in 1997 with the goal of helping people become – and stay – debt-free and financially educated. The company offers a debt management program that can lower interest rates, eliminate late fees, and potentially re-age your accounts. The program can reduce a person’s debt by up to 58%.
Premier also has other resources, such as a cost-of-debt calculator, financial literacy aids, and free seminars. The process is easy and involves working with certified credit counselors who can help improve your financial and credit health.
The company has 3.9 stars on Google and an A+ rating on BBB.

  • 5201 Blue Lagoon Dr., STE 800
  • Miami, FL, 33126-7050
  • (305) 827-9080
  • http://www.premierconsumer.org
  • Rating: 8.03/10

One Focus Financial LLC

One Focus Financial is a payday loan debt consolidation company located in Hollywood, Florida. It also specializes in other high-interest debts, including credit card consolidation services. And it provides debt settlement services.
It has 4.5 stars on Google and an A+ BBB rating.

  • 3837 Hollywood Blvd STE A
  • Hollywood, FL, 33021-1243
  • (877) 972-9228
  • https://www.onefocusfinancial.net/
  • Rating: 8.13/10

Money Management International, Inc.

\Established in 1997, Money Management International offers various debt relief services, including debt management plans. It can help people repay high-interest credit cards, balance their monthly expenses, purchase a home, or file for bankruptcy. It’s not a credit repair service, but it has educational materials to help people build or improve their credit score.
It has 4.9 stars on BBB and an A+ rating.

  • 7200 Corporate Center Dr. Ste. 200
  • Miami, FL, 33126
  • (800) 308-2227
  • http://www.moneymanagement.org
  • Rating: 8.33/10

Make a Way Ministries, Inc.

Established in 1987, this nonprofit Christian ministry helps people reduce their debt by 50% or more with debt repayment plans. It focuses on long-term freedom from debt and has worked with tens of thousands of customers. The organization also has many free educational resources relating to bankruptcy, budgeting, debt management and settlement, credit-building, and more.
It is currently unrated on BBB.

  • 12030 SW 129th Court Suite 104
  • Miami, FL, 33186
  • (305) 271-5094
  • http://makeaway.net/
  • Rating: 8.53/10

First Choice Debt Resolution, LLC

First Choice Debt Resolution works with people nationwide to provide debt relief through their debt settlement program. The process is straightforward and personalized to the individual’s need. The average customer sees a 55% debt reduction by the end of the program.
It has 4.9 stars on Google and an A+ rating on BBB.

  • 1940 Harrison St., Suite 100-C
  • Hollywood, FL, 33020
  • (786) 581-4000
  • www.firstchoicedebtrelief.com/
  • Rating: 8.64/10

Encompass Recovery Group, LLC

With 37+ years of combined experience in the debt relief industry, Encompass Recovery Group offers several services. This includes debt settlement, payday loan consolidation, credit card debt consolidation, and cash advance debt relief. The company also works with customers to make a debt resolution plan to help them become debt-free. Through them, it’s possible to lower your monthly payments by 40% to 60%.
On BBB, Encompass has a C rating, mainly due to the slow process. On Google, it has 4.7 stars.

  • 2450 Hollywood Blvd STE 401
  • Hollywood, FL, 33020-6625
  • 7542084081ext561
  • http://encompassrecoverygroup.com
  • Rating: 8.74/10

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc.

Established in 1993, Consolidated Credit Counseling uses certified credit counselors to provide credit counseling services. Along with a free credit counseling session, the organization also offers debt management plans that could reduce payments by 30% to 50%. The main website also has several financial resources and articles about managing debt.
The company is BBB accredited with an A+ rating. It also has 4.91 stars on Google and 4.7 stars on Trustpilot.

  • 5701 W Sunrise Blvd STE 200
  • Plantation, FL, 33313-6269
  • (800) 596-4680
  • http://www.consolidatedcredit.org/
  • Rating: 8.96/10

Brite Solutions, Inc.

Backed by over 10 years of experience, Brite Solutions offers straightforward debt settlement that can help people become debt-free within 48 months. It’s worked with over 20,000 customers and has exceptional customer service.
On BBB, Brite has an A+ rating.

  • 3440 Hollywood Blvd STE 415
  • Hollywood, FL, 33021-6933
  • (877) 302-7483
  • http://www.britesolutionsinc.com
  • Rating: 9.07/10

How Can I Get Help Paying My Bills in Florida?

Florida State has several programs in place to help low-income residents with their utility bills. These include:

  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: The organization helps with heating and cooling costs and can provide funds three times a year.
  • Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA): The Florida DCA helps at a local level to improve quality of life in the state.
  • Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP): Offered through the U.S. Department of Energy, the WAP helps improve energy efficiency to reduce energy costs for low-income households. It supports around 35,000 homes every year and helps the average household save $372 annually.

There are also community assistance programs, charitable organizations, local programs and contacts by county. And there are other low-income programs in Florida, ranging from state to federal agencies.

For rental assistance, reach out to the Florida Department of Children And Families. They have a federally-funded emergency rental and utilities assistance program for low-income families.

Food Help in a Crisis

In Florida, more than two million people are struggling with basic food needs. That is approximately 1 out of 7 people. Fortunately, there are many food banks and pantries throughout the state. These services help low-income families (and individuals) get access to free or low-cost food.

Here are some food banks in Florida:

Feeding South Florida

  • 2501 SW 32nd Terrace, Pembroke Park, FL 33023
  • (954) 518-1818

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

  • 411 Mercy Dr, Orlando, FL 32805
  • (407) 295-1066

Feeding Northeast Florida

  • 1116 Edgewood Avenue North D/E, Jacksonville, FL 32254
  • (904) 513-1333

For more resources, visit feedingflorida.org.

Consumer Information in Florida

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation is responsible for monitoring and limiting financial service providers in the state. Its mission is to protect consumers from scams and manipulative or illegal practices. It also strives to promote a safe financial marketplace for the industry, while boosting Florida’s economy through fair regulation.

The Florida Division of Consumer Finance is responsible for enforcing lending laws within the state. It manages licensure and registration programs for companies and individuals involved in consumer lending, debt collection, debt management, and student loan servicing.

The office also investigates complaints about lenders and creditors. After a thorough investigation, it takes the appropriate disciplinary or legal action against any organizations that don’t follow the laws. Depending on the situation, the office may either fine or disband the offending organization.

If needed, you can submit a complaint or tip directly from the website.

Where to Make a Complaint in Florida

The best place to register a complaint about illegal activity or harassment is the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. You can do this by completing an online form. The office tries to resolve complaints within 30 days or less.

Alternatively, you can contact them here:

You can also file a complaint with the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a federal organization that enforced federal consumer financial law to foster fair, transparent practices.

When seeking debt relief in Florida, it’s important to note that not all types of debt are eligible. Debts that can be included in the state’s debt settlement programs include:

  • Credit cards
  • Department store cards
  • Signature loans
  • Personal lines of credit
  • Old repossessions
  • Other unsecured debts
  • Old judgments
  • Private student loans in default

Debts that don’t typically qualify for debt settlement in Florida include:

  • Home mortgages
  • Federal student loans
  • Car loans
  • Other secured debts
  • Credit Union debts
  • Medical bills

Debt Collection in Florida

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Americans have certain protections when it comes to debt collectors. Residents of Florida also have certain state protections.

State Protections

Floridians are protected under the Florida Consumer Collection Protection Act (FCCPA). The FCCPA extends federal protections governing third-party collectors (ex. debt collection agencies) to the original creditors. Under the FCCPA, neither creditors nor debt collectors can:

  • Use deceptive, abusive, fraudulent, or manipulative tactics to collect debts.
  • Use force or violence to get borrowers to pay their debts.
  • Contact a borrower’s employer about a past-due account unless a prior agreement was made, or they have a judgment.
  • Sell or otherwise disclose private information to a third-party agency.
  • Harass borrowers at home or at work about the debt.
  • Contact borrowers outside of standard business hours (9:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.) without consent.
  • Intentionally misrepresent information.

Debt collectors and creditors must also provide written notification with details relating to the debt within five days of contacting the borrower. If you’ve been contacted about a debt you might not owe, you have 30 days to dispute it with a debt verification letter. In the letter, write that you don’t owe the debt and that they must provide written proof before anything else happens.

What is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Florida?

The statute of limitations on most debts in Florida is 5 years. This is true for medical bills, credit card debt, and state tax debt. However, for debts obtained through an oral agreement or open accounts, the statute of limitations is 4 years. This period begins as soon as you miss the initial payment on a debt that’s due.

After the statute of limitations expires, the debt becomes “time-barred.” This means the original creditor can no longer collect on it. At this point, the court can’t order you to repay the debt either. Debt collectors also can’t garnish your wages or place a lien on your car or home.

You’ll still legally owe these debts. Also, debt collectors can still contact you via phone or letter to try to get you to pay.

If You’re Being Harassed by Debt Collectors

Some debt collectors will harass you about any unpaid debts. Harassment includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Coercion or threats of violence or illegal action
  • Fraudulent claims (ex. you owe more than you do or will be arrested for not paying)

If you think the debt collectors are violating the Florida Consumer Collection Protection Act. file a complaint with the following:

  • Florida Attorney General’s office
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Filing for Bankruptcy in Florida

If other debt relief options aren’t available to you, it may be possible to file for bankruptcy instead. Keep in mind, this will ruin your credit and have other negative repercussions. So, speak with a bankruptcy attorney before going this route.

Bankruptcy works under federal law, not state law. Because of this, the process is much the same in Florida as it is in any other state. But each state has different court procedures and paperwork requirements, so you need to consult an attorney so you’re fully aware of any different procedures.

There are two main types of personal bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. More than 60% of non-business filings are for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, making it the most common option for individuals.

The main difference between the two types is this:

  • In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor’s assets are liquidated (or sold) to repay their creditors. Any remaining eligible debts, such as medical bills, credit card debts, personal loans, or auto loans, are then erased. While many details are the same nationwide, there are a few differences in Chapter 7 that vary from state to state, including income requirements.
  • In a Chapter 13, you can keep your property and assets provided you set up a 3 to 5-year payment plan with your creditors.

Unfortunately, you won’t necessarily get to choose which type of bankruptcy to file. To qualify for bankruptcy, you’ll have to pass a means test first.

For example, a single-income household in Florida may qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they have:

  • An average monthly income of $3,493 or a 6-month total income of $20,958.

Some judges will determine your ability to pay your debts as part of the “totality of the circumstances” test. Depending on the result, you may have to file a Chapter 13 instead, regardless of income.

It’s impossible to file bankruptcy for free, so getting some free legal advice from a bankruptcy attorney can help you avoid a mistake that could significantly increase your costs to file.

For more information and resources about filing for bankruptcy in Florida, check here: https://www.stateofflorida.com/bankruptcy-resources/

Payday Lending Laws in Florida: Legal

Payday loans are prohibited in 16 states and the District of Columbia. They are, however, legal in Florida and are called deferred presentment providers. Here are the main limitations on payday lending in the state:

  • Maximum loan amount: $500
  • Interest rate (APR): 391% on a 14-day loan of $100
  • Loan term: 7 to 31 days
  • Number of rollovers allowed: None
  • Number of outstanding loans allowed: 1
  • Cooling-off period: 24 hours
  • Installment: Lump-sum payment required with the option for a maximum 60-day grace period after the original termination date (no additional fee)
  • Finance charges: Single-payment loans have a 10% fee (of the loan amount) plus a $5 verification fee. Maximum finance charges of 8% on the outstanding balance biweekly, plus a $5 verification fee.
  • Collection fees: Non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees for returned payments plus any overdraft bank fees.
  • Criminal action: Prohibited

How to File for Unemployment in Florida

You can apply for unemployment benefits or compensation in Florida entirely online. Read up on the eligibility requirements before starting the application process to see if you qualify.

The Bottom Line

Florida has various debt relief programs available to residents, including debt settlement and debt consolidation. If you’re struggling with debt, it’s important to know your rights as a consumer, as well as your options. That way, you can start working on becoming debt-free sooner.

Florida Debt Statistics (Updated 2022)

Total Debt$28,823,847,000
Debt Per Capita$1,646
Debt Per Capita Rank46

Source: World Population Review

Florida Credit Card Debt Statistics

Average Credit Card Balance689
Average Credit Score$6,336
Avg Credit Card Balance Rank (1 = Highest Balance)9
Avg Credit Score Rank (1=Highest Score)36

Source: Experian

Mortgage Debt in Florida

Mortgage Debt Per Capita$214,203
Average 30-year Mortgage Rate5.28%
Average 15-year Mortgage Rate4.69%
Median Home Value$245,100
Avg Outstanding Mortgage Debt$188,223
Difference Between Value and Mortgage Debt$56,877
Avg Homeowner FICO Score701

Source: Federal Reserve, Value Penguin, Experian

Payday Loan Debt in Florida

Payday Loan Legal StatusLegal
Maximum Payday Loan Amount500
Maximum Payday Loan Term31 days
Maximum Payday Loan APR391%

Source: Florida Government Website

Unemployment and the Economy of Florida

Poverty Rate – Population14.7%
Poverty Rate – Population – Rank35
Poverty Rate – Family12.20%
Poverty Rate – Family – Rank17
Unemployment Rate (May 2022)3%
Unemployment Rank15
GDP $1,111,614 million
GDP Rank4

Source: US Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Student Loan Debt in Florida

Percent of Population with Student Loans13.4%
Average Student Loan debt$35,496
Average Debt of New Graduates (2019-2020)$24,454
Average Debt Rank14
Percent of Graduates with Debt (2017-18)47%
Percent with Debt RankN/A
Usable Institutions (BA-Granting)30
Percent of Graduates at Schools with Usable Data69%
Nonfederal debt of graduates, as percent of total debt11%
Fall enrollment – Undergraduate total (IPEDS)996,282
Tuition per semester (in-district/in-state)$6,071
Total Cost of Attendance (on-campus)$45,560
Percent of Institutional Grants that are Need-Based64%

Source: Value Penguin, TICAS

Cost of Living in Florida

Annual Mean Wage (All Occupations)$51,908
Median Monthly Rent$1,999
Value of a Dollar99 cents
Cost of Living102.8
Cost of Living Rank26
Grocery Cost Index106.9
Housing Cost Index99.6
Utilities Cost Index103.1
Transportation Cost Index101.7
Miscellaneous Cost Index98.4

Source: World Population Review

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