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Your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Act, under California law, and under other regulations, include:

1.          A debt collector may not to harass you by calling you an unreasonable number of times.  15 U.S.C. 1692d(5).  California Civil Code section 1788.11(e) prohibits a

             debt collector from placing telephone calls “with such frequency as to be unreasonable and to constitute harassment to the debtor under the circumstances.”

2.           A debt collector may not call you at work if the debt collector knows that your employer prohibits an employee from receiving such communications at work. 

             15 U.S.C. 1692c(a)(1).  Tell the collector not to call at work and fax a letter repeating this request.


3.           A debt collector cannot dun you (telephone or write) after you make a written request that they stop.  15 U.S.C. 1692c(c) provides:

             “If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease

             further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt, except . ..”

             The debt collector may communicate, one time, to tell you that their efforts are being terminated.  They can still file and serve a lawsuit. 

4.           A debt collector may not communicate directly with any consumer if he/she/it knows that the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to the subject

              debt, unless the attorney fails to respond to their communications within 14 days.  15 U.S.C. 1692c(a)(2) and related regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations. 

              California Civil Code section 1788.14.  The lawyer should give written notice of his/her representation.

5.           A debt collector misrepresents the imminence of legal action.  It is a violation of 15 U.S.C. 1692e(10) and 1692e(4) and (5) for a debt collector to say or imply that

              a lawsuit will be filed if the debt collector has not made arrangements for an in-state attorney to file the lawsuit. 

6.           Collection activity during the 30 day period after the consumer demands “verification” of the debt.


The purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is to regulate consumer credit reporting so that the economy of the United States will benefit from the proper use of consumer credit.  Fair credit reporting not only benefits the individual consumers; it benefits the entire economy.

There are three major credit reporting agencies.  Experian, for example, is based in Ireland, has about 15,000 employees and annual revenues of about four billion US $.  Almost all of this revenue comes from large creditors, and they make it difficult for a consumer to resolve issues with them.  If you contact them with a dispute, they will try to get you to sign up with them for a fee.

If you are contacted by a collection agency, you can request that the collection agency “validate” a debt.  “Validation” is more than “Verification.”  Collection agencies will say that they have “verified” that you are the person whose name is on the account.  You have a right to more information.  Pursuant to the Section 809(b) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. 1692g), you can state that their claim is disputed and request that they provide you with a statement of what the debt is for, when it was incurred, and how the amount demanded was calculated.  You may also request that they provide the name and address of the original creditor, show that they are licensed in your state, and provide their license number and the name and address of their registered agent.  You can also request that they show that the Statute of Limitations has not expired.  The collection agency must respond to this request for validation within 30 days, and they may not engage in any collection activity until they have provided the requested information.  See 15 U.S.C. 1692g(b).  If they  violate this law, they can be sued.  See Casas v Midland Credit Mgmt.

Credit reporting is governed by 15 U.S.C. 1666 and 12 CFR 226.13.  If a consumer notifies a creditor, in writing, that a debt is disputed, the creditor cannot report any negative information to a credit reporting agency until completion of its investigation.  The law requires that the credit reporting agency review and consider all relevant information and documents that it receives from a consumer regarding the dispute.  Therefore, sent the credit reporting agency copies of all relevant documents and correspondence.  If, after the creditor completes its investigation, the consumer still insists that the debt is disputed, the creditor must notify the credit reporting agencies that the debt is disputed.  California Civil Code 1785.25 12 C.F.R. 226.13(g)(4).

If the creditor does not tell the credit reporting agency (Equifax, etc.) that the debt is disputed, you should write to the credit reporting agency, with copies of all documents and request that they investigate.  If the credit reporting agency fails to conduct an adequate investigation, you can sue the credit reporting agency for violation of 15 U.S.C. 1681-1681t.  See Stevenson v TRW, Inc.   Cushman v Trans Union Corp.  Richardson v Fleet Bank, Equifax, Experian, Trans Union and Portfolio Recovery Associates.  Note, however, that the 9th Circuit has recently held that certain state laws in this area (California Civil Code 1785.1, et seq) have been pre-empted by federal law (15 U.S.C. 1681(b)(1).  Federal law applies.

Federal law contains protections against the re-insertion of previously deleted information.  The credit reporting agency must notify the consumer that the disputed information is being-inserted.  The law contains legal remedies if either the creditor or the credit reporting agency re-inserts previously deleted information in violation of the law.