California has, in addition to the protections provided by the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, one of the most robust and complete state debt collection laws nationwide. The California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, also known as the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “RFDCPA”), mirrors the protections of the FDCPA, but also adds significant additional protections.
First and foremost, the RFDCPA extends to debt collection actions by the original creditors – those who originally lent the money. The Federal Act, by contrast, applies only to secondary debt collectors working on behalf of those creditors, or who have purchased the debt from them. Like the Federal law, however, the RFDCPA provides for actual damages or statutory damages up to $1,000, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Like the FDCPA, California law prohibits the use of obscene or profane language, as well as threats to carry out actions that the collector cannot legally take. Likewise, under California law a collector cannot damage property or physically injure the debtor or others.
The California law also provides limits on when creditors and collectors may contact debtors, and the means they may use to do so. The law places limits on collectors contacting third parties or the debtor’s employees, and what they may reveal when they do so.
Under the RFDCPA, creditors must provide debtors with certain information when they first make contact, including the amount allegedly owed, the name of the supposed creditor, and the means the consumer may use to dispute the bill.
The California law also provides protections with regards to reports to the credit reporting agencies. A collector cannot threaten to make a report unless it actually intends to do so, and is a customer of the credit reporting agency. Creditors must also make a complete report, if a report is made, including whether a dispute has been filed and whether the debt is subsequently paid.
The RFDCPA provides many other protections as well. If you believe that a collector has behaved inappropriately while attempting to collect a debt from you in California, our attorneys can help you to determine whether the RFDCPA or the FDCPA provides you with a legal remedy.
To learn more about the FDPCA, go to Federal Debt Collection Practices Act .
Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Cal Civ Code §§1788 to 1788.33, 1812 to 1812.072.