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What is the Rosenthal Act?

If you are a resident of California, you should familiarize yourself with the Rosenthal Act. While it is true that the Rosenthal Act only applies to individuals who are paying off debts, you never know what the future might bring. Whether you are currently dealing with debt or you have all your affairs in order, it is important to know your rights as a citizen of California and as a consumer. When you understand how creditors and debt collections agencies are supposed to behave when they interact with you, you will immediately know when they are breaking strict regulations set forth by the Rosenthal Act.

These regulations are in place to protect the average consumer. They prevent creditors and debt collections agencies from harassing you in a number of ways, including:

  • Calling you at unusual times during the day
  • Threatening you
  • Claiming to represent the US Government
  • Putting you on a “blacklist” of unreliable debtors
  • Threatening to expose your debt to family members and others
  • Demanding sums that aren’t accurate or unjust according to the law

There are many other regulations that creditors must follow under the Rosenthal Act, and you can speak with a legal expert to figure out whether your creditors are breaking any of these rules. If these regulations are being violated in any way, you can take your creditors to court and they will be liable. 

History of the Rosenthal Act

The Rosenthal Act arose during the same time period as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is commonly known as the FDCPA. Both the Rosenthal Act and the FDCPA are quite old, with the FDCPA having first been introduced to the House in 1977. The FDCPA was subsequently passed through the Senate before being signed into law by President Jimmy Carter later that year. 

Prior to the FDCPA, there were very little protections for the average consumer who was being harassed by unethical debt collection agencies. The purpose of the FDCPA is threefold:

  • To ensure debt collection is carried out in a fair, ethical manner
  • To stop abusive practices used by debt collection agencies
  • To provide consumers with a method to confirm the accuracy and validity of the information being used by debt collection agencies

So how does the Rosenthal Act fit into all of this? Put simply, the Rosenthal Act expands on the existing regulations set forth by the FDCPA. Not long after the FDCPA was signed into law, the Rosenthal Act quickly followed in order to offer additional protections to residents of California. 

What is the Difference between the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act?

At first glance, the Rosenthal Act may seem identical to the FDCPA. However, upon closer inspection it becomes clear that Californians enjoy a much higher level of protection from creditors compared to the average US citizen. 

The biggest difference between these two acts has to do with who classifies as a “debt collector.” Looking at the FDCPA alone, you will see that “debt collectors” are defined as collections agencies or third-party debt collectors. 

On the other hand, the Rosenthal Act expands this definition to include pretty much anyone who is trying to collect a debt from someone in California. This includes “first-party” creditors. 

To make this easier to understand, imagine that you have signed up for a gym membership and you have forgotten to pay your monthly fees for a few months. Perhaps you forgot that you even signed up for the gym membership in the first place. 

Now, what would happen if you did not live in California? If that gym tried to collect your debt without using a debt collection agency, none of the regulations set forth by the FDCPA would apply to them because the gym would not be defined as a “debt collector” under that act. 

On the other hand, as a resident of California, you would still be entitled to protections offered by the FDCPA. That gym would still be defined as a “debt collector,” and they would still have to adhere to a number of regulations set forth by the FDCPA, all thanks to the Rosenthal Act.  

Amendments to the Rosenthal Act

Since its inception, the Rosenthal has been amended a number of times. In 1986, the Rosenthal Act was amended to include attorneys in its definition of “debt collectors.” 

Perhaps the most notable amendment came in 1999, when the Rosenthal Act was altered to allow debtors to pursue class action remedies. When it was first created, the Rosenthal Act only permitted individual remedies of up to $1000. Essentially, the Rosenthal Act simply borrowed existing legislation from the FDCPA, which states that plaintiffs may pursue class action remedies of up to $500,000 or 1% of the company’s net worth.

It is worth pointing out that in some cases, plaintiffs may receive significantly less than $1,000 if they pursue a class action, usually because 1% of a company’s net worth can be quite a low number (especially when it is divided among numerous people). Because of this, it is important to work with experienced legal professionals who can help you decide which option is best for you. Either way, the defendants (the creditors) must pay your legal fees if the court rules in your favor. 


There are two major exemptions you need to understand when it comes to the Rosenthal Act. Although this act provides additional protections compared to the FDCPA, it also offers some leniency for creditors who do not classify as “debt collectors” under the FDCPA. 

This type of creditor could be a private gym as previously noted, a telecommunications provider, or any other creditor that has not handed the debt to a collections agency or a third-party service. 

These creditors are provided with the following exemptions from existing legislation in the FDCPA:

  • Unlike the FDCPA, the Rosenthal Act does not require “debt collectors” to provide consumers with a so-called “mini-Miranda” notice. A mini-Miranda notice is when creditors must recite legal wording that informs you of your rights as a debtor. They usually recite this wording when they first call you regarding your debt.
  • Under the Rosenthal Act, “debt collectors” are also not required to send you a validation notice. This is a document that outlines how much you owe, why you owe the amount, and other information. 

Taking Action

If you think your creditors have violated the Rosenthal Act, it is time to take action. Contact the Southern California Bankruptcy Law Center today and get the legal help you deserve. Located in Vista, our team of expert attorneys have decades of experience in this area. Reach out today and make sure that your creditors are adhering to the law. 

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