Debt collection practices are regulated by federal and state law. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, often referred to as the “FDCPA”, protects all of us from unfair, misleading, harassing or abusive conduct by debt collectors. California also has adopted its own FDCPA, called the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
In California, you can sue the debt collector and the original creditor for violations of California and federal law. The federal FDCPA covers debt collectors, which is defined by the law to generally exclude the original creditor (e.g., the credit card issuer). The California law defines debt collectors to include the original creditors that collect consumer debt. Most original creditors fall within the definition of a debt collector under California law. Moreover, California law incorporates most of the federal law and makes them violations of California law. Thus, in California, you can sue the original creditor and the debt collector for violations of state and federal law.
The fair debt collection laws apply to all consumer debt. Under both federal and California law, any person who owes or is alleged to owe a consumer debt (one that was incurred for a personal, household or family purpose) is entitled to the protections of the fair debt collection laws. Debt that was incurred primarily for a business purpose is not covered.
Any person who the debt collector claims owes a consumer debt is covered by the fair debt collection laws. As just noted, the fair debt collection laws apply to any person who is alleged to owe a consumer debt. If a debt collector seeks to collect money or property from someone, that person can sue for violations of the fair debt collection laws whether or not that person owes any debt or even had any relationship with the original creditor.
Repossession agencies are covered by the fair debt collection laws. Repossessors are subject to the federal FDCPA if they attempt to repossess property without the right to do so (e.g., the repossession is done in breach of the peace). Repossessors are subject to ALL of the protections afforded by California’s fair debt collection laws. This means that in California, you can sue a repossessor for threats, misrepresentations, abuse and unfair conduct in attempting to repossess property, even if the repossessor had a right to take the property and the repossession was entirely lawful.