Debt Collection Harassment (and Abuse) Law in California
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (in California, the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also protects you) applies to those who collect debts owed to creditors for personal, family, and household expenses. These debts include car loans, mortgages, credit accounts, money owed for medical bills, and more. A debt collector or collection agency is someone hired to collect money you owe.
Within five days after a debt collector first contacts you, the collector must send you a notice that tells you:
1) the name of the creditor;
2) how much you allegedly owe;
3) what action to take if you believe you don’t owe the money.
If you owe the money or part of it, you can contact the creditor for payment. If you believe you do not owe the money, you should contact the creditor in writing and send a copy to the collection agency with a letter telling it not to contact you. A debt collector may NOT:
- Contact you at unreasonable times. (For example, before 8 AM or after 9 PM, unless you agree)
- Contact you at work if you tell the debt collector your employer disapproves of those personal phone calls
- Contact you after you write a letter telling the collector to stop collection, except to notify you if the collector or creditor plans to take a specific action
- Contact your friends, relatives, employer, or others, except to find out where you live and work (if they do not already know it)
- Harass you with repeated phone calls, profane language, or threats to harm you
- Make any false statement or claim that you will be arrested
- Threaten to have money deducted from your paycheck or to sue you, unless the collection agency or credit intends to do so and it is legal
You have rights! If they are violated, you sue the collection agency or sue the debt collector to recover statutory damages up to $1000 under federal law and $1000 under state law (for a total of $2000), plus your actual damages, plus your attorney’s fees and costs.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors and collection attorneys from using harassment and other unethical practices when collecting debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., is a United States Federal Statute that was added in 1978 to Title VIII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, 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.
The FDCPA creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct their business, defines consumer rights involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the FDCPA. Many debt collectors ignore laws enacted to prevent harassment and abuse in the collection process. If you have been treated unfairly, then contact us immediately. We will fight hard for you and take your case to trial if necessary to enforce and protect your rights. We offer a free consultation and you may be entitled to compensation.