The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), codified at 15 U.S.C. S 1692 -1692p, was originally approved on September 20, 1977. The California equivalent is known as the "Rosenthal Act", and is codified at California Civil Code Sections 1788-1788.32.

These sets of laws provide consumers with legal protection from abusive debt collection practices. The purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information's accuracy. They also provide penalties and remedies for violations of the Act, and attorney's fees are guaranteed to be paid by the debt collector if any one alleged violation is found to be true.

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These laws contain an attorneys' fees clause:

These laws contain an attorneys' fee clause, which means a debt collector who violates any one of the provisions to this act is responsible for paying for the consumer's attorney's fees. This ultimately means that an individual can retain an attorney, prosecute the case from investigation to trial, and pay nothing out of pocket. You should speak with an experienced Debt Harassment Attorney or this reason alone.

FDCPA claims can be brought in State Superior Court as well as Federal District Court. Regardless of where the case is filed, and/or ultimately removed, the rights and obligations of the debt collector does not change. An experienced Debt Harassment Attorney can protect your rights.

Both laws provide consumers up to $1,000.00 for any one violation of any of the following:

  • Contacting consumers by telephone outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., local time.
  • Communicating with consumers in any way, (other than litigation), after receiving written notice that the consumer wishes no further communication and/or refuses to pay the debt, subject to certain exceptions, such as advising that collection efforts are being terminated or that the collector intends to file a lawsuit or pursue other remedies where permitted.
  • Causing a telephone to ring and/or engaging any person in telephone conversations repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.
  • Communicating with consumers at their place of employment after having been advised that this is unacceptable or prohibited by the employer.
  • Contacting a consumer known to be represented by an attorney.
  • Communicating with the consumer, or pursuing the collection of a debt, after receipt of a consumer's written request for verification of a debt made within the 30-day validation period and before the debt collector mails the consumer the requested verification or original creditor's name and address.
  • Misrepresentation of a debt and/or using deception to collect the debt, including a debt collector's misrepresentation that he or she is an attorney or law enforcement officer.
  • Publishing the consumer's name or address on a "bad debt" list.
  • Seeking unjustified amounts, which includes any amount not permitted under an applicable contract or as provided under applicable law.
  • Threatening arrest for not paying a debt.
  • Abusive or profane language used in the course of communication related to the debt.
  • Communication with third parties and revealing or discussing the nature of a debt.
  • Contacting a consumer's neighbors and/or co-workers telling them they need to reach the consumer on an urgent matter.
  • Contact via embarrassing media, such as communicating with a consumer regarding a debt by post card, or using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector's address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by use of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business.
  • Reporting false information on a consumer's credit report and/or threatening to do so in the process of trying to collect on an alleged debt.

These laws also require certain disclosures by debt collects that must be followed:

  • Identify themselves and notify the consumer, in every communication, that the communication is from a debt collector, and in the initial communication that any information obtained will be used to effect collection of the debt.
  • Give the name and address of the original creditor, (the company to whom the debt was originally payable), upon the consumer's written request made within 30-days of receipt of the notice.
  • Notify the consumer of the right to dispute the debt, in part or in full, with the debt collector. The 30-day notice is required to be sent by debt collectors within five days of the initial communication with the consumer.
  • Provide verification of the debt if a consumer sends a written dispute or request for verification within 30-days of receiving the notice.
  • File a lawsuit in a proper venue.

The California Rosenthal Act Permits Greater Protections & Larger Recovery for Violations

The California Rosenthal, or the California Rosenthal Act, is California's state FDCPA statute ("RFDCPA"). It has many of the same rules as the FDCPA, except that not only does this apply to debt collectors, it applies to creditors themselves, too, which means you may have greater rights and even greater protections.

The Rosenthal Act is similar to the FDCPA insofar as it creates several requirements that debt collectors must comply with in their debt collection efforts; but the main difference is that The Rosenthal Act applies to the original creditor and to third-party debt collectors, whereas Federal FDCPA only applies to a third-party debt collection agency that takes over collection of the debt.

Once again, this provides you, the consumer, with greater rights and even greater protections. Because you can file both FDCPA and Rosenthal claims together in State or Federal court, you can sue for FDCPA, Rosenthal claims together, and any violations of the FDCPA through the Rosenthal Act could lead to a potential award of up to $2,000.00 in statutory damages at no cost to you because the attorneys' fees are paid by the defense

The Rosenthal Act gets its power to sue all creditors from Civil Code Section 1788.2(c), which states that a "debt collector" includes anyone "who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly, on behalf of himself or herself or others, engages in debt collection."

It is important to note that the statute of limitations to bring a claim under the FDCPA and The Rosenthal Act is one (1) year, so do not delay in contacting an experienced Debt Harassment Attorney today.

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