Designed to make the consumer debt collection process fair, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) offers precise direction as to how debts can be verified and how they can be challenged to ensure the validity of them. The Act is designed to limit the actions and the various behaviors of third-party debt collectors trying to collect consumer debts on behalf of a separate entity or individual.
The law sets restrictions on the hours that contact with the debtor is allowed in addition to the frequency of contact that is permissible. If you have been harassed by a debt collector in California, you might be eligible to seek actual damages plus up to $1,000 in additional damages. You should consult with an FDCPA attorney right away to ensure you get the help you need so you can stop the continuous calls that you receive from California's third-party debt collectors.
California's FDCPA Laws and How They Work
While the federal act protects the residents of California, they are also protected by the additional limits that are specified by the state Act. The California FDCPA, which is sometimes called the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, is designed to protect the consumer from more than just collection agencies. The following are considered debt collectors who are required to comply with the California FDCPA:
- Collection agencies
- Any agency who collects debts as part of their regular business
- Organizations that make tools and forms used for debt collection
- Lawyers and members of their staff who collect debts
- Original creditors
The federal law does not apply to original creditors, while the California statute does. The state law requires that original creditors adhere to both the state requirements as well as the federal requirements. The statute does indicate that debt collectors do not have to be licensed in California while some other states do require that debt collectors be licensed in order to pursue the collection process.
Differences in the General FDCPA and California's FDCPA Laws
One of the most significant differences in the federal and state statutes is how original creditors are included in California. The federal statute just requires that debt collectors who are collecting for another party or entity comply, but the organizations and individuals that are included in California reaches beyond that and includes a variety of agencies and individuals. Both laws are designed to keep debt collectors acting in a responsible manner and to keep debtors from being mislead and harassed because they owe debts.
Consult with an FDCPA Attorney
If you are being harassed by a debt collector in California, you should consult with an FDCPA attorney. An attorney will ensure your rights are protected and will help you take the appropriate action. You can pursue a civil suit against the debt collector and collect actual damages that you incurred because the debt collector violated the state statute. In legal action where it can be proven that the agency that was collecting the debt acted in a manner that was determined to be "willfully and knowingly" the court can award you an additional amount which ranges from $100 to $1,000. You can also receive damages for any physical or emotional suffering you've experienced.