California debt collection law provides consumers with additional protections when they are dealing with debt collectors. Abusive collectors are an increasing problem in the U.S and are a leading cause of complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission. Common complaints include harassment by debt collectors who call consumers repeatedly and/or use threatening or profane language, as well as those who threaten consumers with illegal actions if they do not pay them the money they are demanding
Many states have passed laws to help protect consumers from unfair debt collection practices. In many instances these laws are stronger than the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and provide consumers with additional protections against abusive bill collectors. California is one of those states. The California debt collection law is called The Rosenthal Act.
The Rosenthal Act incorporates all of the key consumer protections provided by the federal FDCPA, including protections against threats, harassment, and false misrepresentations by debt collectors as well as unwarranted communications with persons other than the actual debtor.
However, the Rosenthal Act applies to debt collectors who are working as employees of creditors, not just to outside debt collectors like the FDCPA does.
The California debt collection law also:
• Places additional restrictions on collectors when they are communicating with someone else about your debt -- your employer, for example.
• Gives you additional protections when a collector is trying to collect a debt from you that you already discharged (wiped out) through bankruptcy. This is an important protection because some of these agencies have become very aggressive about trying to collect such debts and try to trick consumers into paying them when they don’t have to.
• Helps protect you if you are illegally served with a summons and complaint related to a debt. (A summons and complaint officially notifies you that you’ve been sued over the debt.)
• Says that a debt collector cannot file a lawsuit against you in a county or other location that is too far from where you live, unless you incurred the debt in that other location.
To help educate you about your debt collection right under the Rosenthal Act as well as all of your rights under the FDCPA, noted Los Angeles consumer law attorney Robert Brennan with the Law Offices of Robert F. Brennan has written the California edition of Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights. Brennan’s co-authors are Gerri Detweiler, a nationally-known personal finance expert, and personal finance writer Mary Reed.
According to Brennan, “When consumers are struggling financially, being pressured by debt collectors only adds to their problems. Furthermore, many consumers respond to debt collectors in ways that make their situations worse, not better. Debt Collection Answers, California Edition, provides them with the information they need to handle calls from debt collectors and educates them about their rights under federal as well as California debt collection law.”
Here is a sampling of the essential information you’ll learn by reading Debt Collection Answers, CA Edition:
• The debt collection protections provided to you by California’s Rosenthal Act and by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
• What to do when a debt collector contacts you the first time.
• What to say (and not say) when you talk to a debt collector.
• What debt collectors can really do to collect money from you.
• How to respond to high-pressure debt collection tactics.
• How to settle your past due debts for less than the full amount.
• When you need the help of a consumer law attorney, and how to get debt collection legal advice.
The book also includes sample letters to write, a worksheet for recording the details of conversations with debt collectors, and an interview about debt collection tactics by a former debt collector.