Under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(RFDCPA), consumers have legal rights which protect them from debt collectors. The RFDCPA was established to protect consumers against unlawful debt collections by debt collectors in California. While the RFDCPA is similar to the federal FDCPA
, it differs in some aspects.
In California, where the FDCPA
both apply, the following points should be taken into consideration while responding to debt collectors:
- Harassment by the collection agency
- Call Restrictions
- Required Notifications
- Partial Payments
- Missing Payments
- Postdated Checks
- Bill Was Paid
- Credit Reporting
- Interest Charges
- Legal Actions
If you wish the calls to stop quickly, responding to debt collectors’ calls as soon as possible is important: otherwise the agency will keep calling. California state law prohibits debt collectors from using obscene or profane language while attempting to collect a debt. Debt collectors may call only between 8 a.m and 9 p.m. There is no law that limits the number of calls by debt collectors. However, repeated calls over a short period are prohibited. You may send a certified letter to debt collectors asking them to stop calls and contact you only through mail. You may also make an oral request, during a call, asking that the calls stop. Debt collectors must use only envelopes to send you any information – postcards and other mail whose contents are visible is prohibited.
The original creditor is not required to notify you of sending your account to a collection agency. However, a collection agency must provide the amount you owe, the name of the original creditor, and your rights regarding the dispute of the debt, within five days of its contacting you. If the debt is already paid or you do not owe it, you should send the agency a written notice along with copies of receipts (if available). You should send such a letter within 30 days after your first contact with the collection agency, if possible. The agency must then immediately stop all efforts until it sends you ample proof of the debt.
A collection agency can contact you at work through written communication to your employer but if there is no response within 15 days, it may contact your place of work by other means. But if you do not want to be contacted or your employer prohibits you from receiving such communication, the agency must be informed and it should stop all such contact immediately.
You may request to make partial payments if you cannot make a full payment. Such requests should be made in writing and a copy should be retained for your records. Be cautious while making this agreement, in order to avoid continued calls. Commit only the amount you are able to pay and send payments to the collection agency directly. It is always wise to contact the collection agency if you are planning to miss a payment or pay only a partial amount, in order to explain the delay.
Some debt collection agencies pass the information regarding your debts to credit reporting agencies (CRAs). However, an agency cannot threaten you with reporting unless it really intends to send such a report. An agency can levy interest on your bill but you are entitled to an explanation from the agency as to what they are charging and why. You should ask them by letter to explain this to you in writing.
If you believe that a debt collection agency has violated your rights, talk to an experienced debt collection attorney
as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you to determine how to stop the harassment, and whether to take legal action against the offending collector.