The California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:
California residents are afforded additional protection from collection agencies under the California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or CFDCPA, which is also commonly referred to as the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA). Because of this law California covers a broader definition of debt collectors.
Who must comply with the CFDCPA?
• Collection Agencies
• Anyone who collects consumer debts in the regular course of business
• Companies which author forms and/or tools for debt collection
• Attorneys and legal staff that collect debts
• Original Creditors
The CFDCPA is intended to regulate full time debt collectors or those who collect debt on a regular basis. Which means CFDCPA does not apply to every type of debt.
Certain Debts and Debt Collectors are Not covered by the CFDCPA.
What does this mean?
Occasional Debt Collectors do not need to comply (If someone owes you money, but you do not collect debt for a living, you do not have to comply with CFDCPA)
Non-consumer Credit transactions generally do not apply to CFDCPA regulations. In layman’s terms Debt incurred for the purposes of personal loans, buying property, or obtaining services for personal, family, or household needs would be subject to these regulations. However, debt incurred for the sake of or while operating your business will most likely not be subject to these regulations.
Foreclosure may not be covered. If a mortgage provider or attorney is attempting to foreclose on your home the CFDCPA does not automatically apply. If you suspect the CFDCPA is being violated in a foreclosure on your home we recommend that you consult an attorney that is specifically familiar with illegal debt collection in California.
What Actions are available to me if a Debt Collector violates the CFDCPA?
File a complaint with the California Attorney General-
This is a good place to start but the Attorney General will not sue on your behalf. If you are lucky the Attorney General may contact the collection agency and forward the complaint on your behalf.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission-
The FTC enforces the FDCPA. Follow this link to file an official complaint with the FTC.
Sue the Debt Collector-
California, like most states nowadays, does not license debt collectors and generally does not police for violations of the CFDCPA. However, you can sue the collection agency in court. If you win the case you may collect for “actual damages” incurred because the debt collector violated the CFDCPA. Additionally if it can be proven that the debt collector acted “willfully and knowingly” the court must award you an additional $100 to $1000**. Last but not least, if you win the court must also award the attorneys fees to you as well.