California Debt Collection Practices & the FDCPA

What is the FDCPA?

FDCPA stands for Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is a federal protection for consumers from unfair or harassing behavior from debt collectors. California has instituted its own additional protections called the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA).

The purpose of the FDCPA is to prevent debt collectors from using unfair, misleading, harassing, or abusive conduct when attempting to recover debt from consumers.

If you acquired debt for personal, household, or family reasons, then you are protected by the FDCPA and California’s RFDCPA and can take legal action if a debt collection agency or your original creditor has violated your rights. Even repossession agencies must follow the guidelines of the FDCPA when attempting to repossess your property. If you have questions about your rights under these acts or if you believe you have been harassed by a collection agency and want to learn more about your legal options, contact our firm, the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri, at 213-282-2000 for a free and personal legal consultation. You can also submit a FREE evaluation form online so that a member of our law firm can assist you in your next steps.

What qualifies as unfair or harassing behavior by a debt collector?

Calling too often

A debt collector is not allowed to contact you by phone with excessive frequency. A debt collector may not contact you before 8AM or after 9PM in your local time zone. Debt collectors may not contact you on your cellphone through an automated dialing system.

Calling your employer or place of employment

Debt collectors are allowed to contact your employer only once to confirm your employment at that location. A debt collector is not permitted to contact your employer more than once, and it is against the FDCPA regulations for a collector to leave messages with your employer or discuss anything other than verifying your employment. A debt collector may not contact your place of employment after you tell them to stop doing so.

Contacting your family and friends

A debt collector is only permitted to contact your family or friends to confirm your home location, work address, or home phone number. However, if they already have this information they are prohibited from contact with any of your friends or family and cannot disclose your debt to any third parties.

Threatening to garnish wages, seize assets, or jail you

Unpaid debt is not a crime and a debt collector cannot threaten arrest or jail time as a way to coerce you into paying your debts. And, if you have not been formally sued, debt collectors may not threaten to garnish your wages or seize your assets—claims to do so are groundless and illegal.

Misrepresenting debts and identity

Debt collectors are not allowed to pose as lawyers or law enforcement officers when collecting debts. The debt collector may not misrepresent your debt or use any sort of deception when attempting to collect your debt.

Failure to cease contact after notice

You can stop a collector from contacting you by sending a written notice to the collection agency that states you wish for them to stop all contact with you. Communicating this by phone does not count. Only a written letter asking the agency to cease all contact with you will prohibit collectors from pursuing you further. After this written notice has been received, it is illegal for the debt collector to contact you.

Suing on old debt

If four years or more have gone by since your last payment on a particular debt, then a debt collection agency cannot pursue you based on those debts.

Using profane or threatening language when attempting to collect a debt

How do I get rid of a debt collector?

Just as it was briefly outlined above, the best way to stop a debt collector from contacting you is by sending them a written letter. The letter can be as simple as saying: Do not contact me, my employer, or any of my friends and family by any means, e-mail, phone, letter, or otherwise. When sending this letter, it helps to request a certified mail return receipt so that you have proof that the agency received your notice. After this notice has been received, a debt collector cannot contact you further and any attempts to do so are illegal.

Can I take legal action against a debt collection agency?

If a debt collection agency, repossession agency, or even your original creditor violates the laws of the FDCPA or California’s RFDCPA, then you are entitled to take legal action and claim damages and be paid penalties. If your case is won, then the losing party must cover your legal fees and costs, and pay a penalty to you of $1000 or more.

If you have been deceived or harassed by a debt collection agency and want to learn more about your legal options, contact us at the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri at 213-282-2000. We offer free and personal legal consultations. You can also submit a FREE evaluation form through our website, which will be reviewed personally by a member of our firm who will contact you about your options.

Applies to:

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Lemon Law Auto Fraud serves the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.

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