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Consumer Rights under the Federal and California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

When people fall behind on their bills, they will likely be contacted by debt collectors or original creditors trying to retrieve the moneys supposedly owed. According to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and California’s own version of Fair Debt Collections Practices Act debt collectors and creditors are specifically prohibited from using abusive, deceptive or unfair tactics when attempting to collect outstanding debts from consumers. Unfortunately, debt collectors and creditors do not always abide by these laws, thereby infringing on consumers’ rights against such abusive and deceptive practices.

Prohibited Conduct: What Debt Collectors Are NOT Allowed to Do

According to the provisions of the FDCPA, when debt collectors and creditors are attempting to collect an outstanding debt, it is illegal for them to:

  • Attempt to collect on an old debt that has expired, i.e. is too old to be legally collectible, which in California is 4 years from the date of default.
  • Threaten actions not permitted by law
  • Contact people between 9 pm and 8 am (in their local time zones)
  • Continue contacting consumers after these consumers have sent them a “stop contact” request in writing
  • Contact people at work when they have been asked not to do so
  • Repeatedly call or contact a consumer in order to harass that person
  • Use profane, offensive or abusive language when dealing with consumers
  • Issue false reports about the consumer to any of the credit reporting bureaus
  • Attempt to collect unjustified amounts of money (such as additional fees or penalties)
  • Send collection letters that looks like a court or “official” document when in reality they are not
  • Send collection letters that contain false or misleading information

Required Conduct: What Debt Collectors MUST Do under FDCPA

The provisions of the FDCPA also require debt collectors and creditors to:

  • Clearly identify themselves in every communication they have with a consumer, including when leaving a voicemail
  • If a debt collector, disclose the name and contact information of the original creditor
  • Inform consumers that they have the right to dispute the debt in question
  • Issue a verification of the debt in question upon receiving a written request from a consumer to do so

Contact Broslavsky & Weinman

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many other ways debt collectors and creditors can be in violation of the law. If you believe a debt collector or a creditor has violated or may have violated your rights, contact one of our Debt Collection Harassment attorneys for a free consultation. You can call us at (310) 575-2550 or email us using the contact form on this page.

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