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State vs. Federal FDCPA

Many people in California do not realize that there are two Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts. First, there is the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which applies nationwide. Second, there is California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is California’s version of the federal law.

There are key differences between the federal Act and the Rosenthal Act:

1. The federal Act generally does not apply to the original creditor (such as, your credit card company), but only to the company attempting to collect the debt on behalf of the original creditor. The Rosenthal Act, however, generally extends its protections to the original creditor. In addition, the Rosenthal Act makes nearly all violations of the federal Act a violation of the Rosenthal Act. That’s great stuff for California consumers. And it makes sense: Why should the original creditor not be liable for who it hires? Of course, it should.

2. The federal Act applies to attorneys, while the Rosenthal Act does not. Hence, if you are going to sue an abusive collection attorney, it must be brought under the federal Act.

3. The federal Act applies to repossessors in only limited instances, while the Rosenthal Act extends all of its protections to repossessors. Again, this is a huge advantage for consumers in California.

The distinctions between the federal Act and the Rosenthal Act are critical in assessing any lawsuit involving debt collection harassment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

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