Consumer Rights/Fair Debt Collection

“Consumer rights” is how lawyers describe cases where companies—the power company, large chain stores, or any business that sells something or provides a service to the public—do fraudulent or harmful things to their customers. Examples of situations where consumer rights have been violated are:

  • Insurance scams
  • Threats and harassing calls by bill collectors
  • Price-fixing agreements
  • Deceptive advertising
  • Defective or flawed products
  • Medical scams or unfair billing practices

How do I know if I have a consumer rights claim?

A lawyer will be able to tell you if you have a good consumer rights claim, and what compensation you may be entitled to. If you think you have been unfairly charged for services by you insurance company or a service provider, if you have been the victim of deceptive advertising, or if you have been harmed by a defective product, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to determine your rights.

Am I entitled to compensation for my consumer rights claim?

If you have a good consumer rights claim, you may be entitled to compensation. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to:

  • Restitution of excessive payments
  • Punitive damages
  • Statutory damages as allowed by law

Is there a time limit for me to file a consumer rights claim?

All consumer rights claims must be brought within the statute of limitations, which is a fixed time period during which a lawsuit may be filed. If the statute of limitations expires, your claim will be barred, meaning you will not be able to file it no matter how strong your case is.

It is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after you discover you have been the victim of a consumer rights violation. Your lawyer will explain your rights and make sure you are fully informed of your options.

What can I do if I am being threatened or lied to by debt collectors?

There are specific laws dedicated to protecting consumers against unfair or deceptive collection practices by bill collectors.  The federal government created a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or “FDCPA,” for precisely this reason.  California’s version of the FDCPA is called the Rosenthal Debt Collection Practices Act, also referred to as the "Rosenthal Act" or "RFDCPA.” 

Both of these laws set specific guidelines for what debt collectors can and can not do when they are attempting to collect a debt.  For example, these statutes specify certain times when debt collectors are not allowed to call you.  They make it unlawful to tell your employer or friends and neighbors about your debts.  They also prohibit debt collectors from harassing you or threatening criminal action against you.  

If you feel that you are being illegally threatened or harassed by a debt collector, you should speak immediately with an attorney.