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The California Collection Agency Act Protects You

The state law in California is commonly referred to as the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is contained in the California Civil Code, sections 1788 – 1788.33

It is the purpose of the Rosenthal FDCPA to prohibit debt collectors from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the collection of consumer debts and to require debtors to act fairly in entering into and honoring such debt.

The law applies to collection agencies and creditors collecting their own debts. It also applies any person who composes and sells forms, letters, and other collection media intended to be used for debt collection, but it does not apply to an attorney or counselor at law.

It only applies to consumer debts, which means a debt alleged to be due or owing from a natural person which was incurred in a transaction primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.

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Acts prohibits by the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act include:

  • The threat that the failure to pay a consumer debt will result in an accusation that the debtor has committed a crime where such accusation would be false
  • The threat to any person that nonpayment of the consumer debt may result in the arrest of the debtor or the seizure, garnishment, attachment or sale of any property or wages of the debtor, unless such action is in fact contemplated by the debt collector and permitted by the law
  • The threat to take any action against the debtor which is prohibited by the Rosenthal FDCPA
  • Use of obscene or profane language
  • Placing telephone calls without disclosure of the caller’s identity
  • Causing a telephone to ring repeatedly or continuously to annoy the person called
  • Communicating with the debtor with such frequency as to be unreasonable and to constitute harassment
  • Communicating with the debtor’s employer regarding the debt unless such a communication is necessary to the collection of the debt, or unless the debtor or his attorney has consented in writing to such communication. A communication is necessary to the collection of the debt only if it is made for the purposes of verifying the debtor’s employment, locating the debtor, or effecting garnishment, after judgment, of the debtor’s wages, or in the case of a medical debt for the purpose of discovering the existence of medical insurance. Communications to a debtor’s employer regarding a debt shall not contain language that would be improper if the communication were made to the debtor.
  • The false representation that a consumer debt has been, is about to be, or will be sold, assigned, or referred to a debt collector for collection
  • Obtaining an affirmation from a debtor of a consumer debt which has been discharged in bankruptcy, without clearly and conspicuously disclosing to the debtor, in writing, the fact that the debtor is not legally obligated to make such affirmation
  • Initiating communications, other than statements of account, with the debtor, when the debt collector has been previously notified in writing by the debtor’s attorney that the debtor is represented by such attorney, unless the attorney fails to answer correspondence, return telephone calls, or discuss the obligation in question, or the debt collector is responding in the ordinary course of business to a debtor’s inquiry
  • Filing a lawsuit to collect a debt in a county other than the county in which the debtor incurred the debt, the county in which the debtor resides when the lawsuit is filed, or the county in which the debtor resided at the time the debt was incurred.
  • We encourage you to download a copy of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by filling out the form above. If debt collectors are calling you, call us.

In addition, a debt collector must cease collection of a debt and conduct a review as specified by the Rosenthal FDCPA if a consumer provides certain types of proof that he has been the victim of identity theft.

Consumers can recover actual damages suffered as the result of any violation by the debt collector. In addition, the consumer can recover a penalty of between $100 and $1000 from a debt collector who violates these laws willfully and knowingly. Debtors who prevail on their claims under the Rosenthal FDCPA can also recover reasonable attorney’s fees from the debt collector.

California also has a law that pertains to Fair Debt Buying Practices, California Civil Code, sections 1788.50 – 1788.64. A debt buyer cannot make any written statement to a debtor in an attempt to collect a consumer debt unless it possesses certain specific information regarding the account, including:

  1. Proof of ownership
  2. An explanation as to how the amount alleged to be owed was calculated
  3. The date of default or last payment
  4. The name, address and charge-off amount from the creditor
  5. The name and last known address of the debtor as they appeared in the charge-off creditor’s records
  6. The names and addresses of all persons or entities that purchased the debt after charge off
  7. Access to a copy of a contract or document evidencing the debtor’s agreement to the debt

That information must be provided to a consumer without charged within 15 calendar days of a debtor’s written request for it. A specific notice of the debtor’s right to request this information must be included in the debt buyer’s first written communication with the debtor. If the debt attempting to be collected is past the statute of limitations, the debt buyer must also provide a written notice stating “The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it, and we will not report it to any credit reporting agency.”

This law also requires a debt buyer to provide a receipt for any payments on the account within 30 calendar days. If the debt buyer accepts a payment as settlement in full on the account, it must provide a final statement to the consumer within 30 calendar days. If a lawsuit is filed against a consumer by a debt buyer, certain specific information must be included in the complaint.

A consumer’s remedies for a debt buyer’s violation of these laws are similar to the remedies provided under the Rosenthal FDCPA.

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In addition to rules covering the actions of creditors and collection agencies under your state’s laws, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides rules protecting consumers from illegal actions of debt collectors, and it applies equally in every state. This means that even if your state laws cannot help you, the FDCPA applies in many more situations.

In fact, certain sections of the laws listed in the available download may have been redacted for brevity.

If you want to find out more about how these laws pertain to your specific situation, please call us at (877) 846-1209 for a free case review with an experienced consumer law attorney. If you prefer, fill out our free case review form and we will contact you.