If you live in California, you are the beneficiary of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (Rosenthal). The Rosenthal Act is a law in California that was intended to extend and supplement the protections already afforded to all US citizens under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is a federal law governing how debt collectors must treat debtors. Rosenthal includes almost all of the requirements of the FDCPA but adds a few very important differences for Californians.
Common FDCPA/Rosenthal Protections
Both the FDCPA and Rosenthal provide, among others, the following protections:
- Communication by a collection agency can only occur between the hours of 8 A.M. and 9 P.M. and they may not contact you at your place of employment if they are informed that such calls are not allowed while you are at work.
- Threatening violence or other criminal behaviors to harm the debtor’s person, reputation or property
- Using obscene or abusive language
- Publishing a “black list” of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts in a timely fashion
- Advertising a debt for sale to coerce payment
- Repeatedly calling a debtor or letting their phone ring continuously
- Making false statements regarding affiliation with the US government
- Making false statements about the nature, character or amount of the debt
- Making false statements about being an attorney or representing an attorney
- Threaten to make false credit statements about the debtor
- Soliciting a post dated check to use as a threat or to bring criminal charges against the debtor
- Contacting the debtor directly if the agency knows the debtor is represented by an attorney
What Makes Rosenthal So Different?
Rosenthal is different than the FDCPA in some procedural ways including the requirement that the debt collector identify themselves as such and, after the initial communication, follow up in writing within a specific time period. Rosenthal is very different, however, because it adds an additional protection to the consumer that the FDCPA explicitly denies: it makes the same requirements apply to your “original creditors” as well as debt collectors. It specifically eliminates the exception under the FDCPA that officers or employees of a creditor are exempt from being considered a debt collector and also does away with the exception that a debt collector within a creditor’s commonly owned business or affiliate is exempt from the requirements of the FDCPA. In other words, if you work for a creditor and you attempt to collect a debt, you are considered a debt collector for the purposes of the law. Now, for example, in California, if you are late paying Credit Card Company A, in order to call you, the caller must follow almost exactly the same guidelines that a debt collection company would have to follow under the FDCPA if they had turned the debt over for collections.
What Can an Attorney Do For You Under Rosenthal?
Our firm has a skilled and experienced staff that can represent you to ensure that the harassing phone calls stop. We know the law and can analyze the debt collector’s or creditor’s actions under Rosenthal and can represent you in court to sue the collection agency or creditor for violating your rights. If found in violation, they can be fined up to $1000 and be required to cover attorney’s fees and court costs. Please give us a call at (800) 551-7922 to set up a free consultation today to start protecting your rights.