Who is a Debt Collector Under the FDCPA?

15 U.S.C. Section 1692a defines a variety of terms used in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Subsection 6 defines “debt collector” and states, in part:

(6) The term “debt collector” means any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another….

Who is an FDCPA Debt Collector?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) defines who qualifies as a debt collector under the law (U.S.C. Section 1692a(6)). One important distinction between debt collectors that are covered by the FDCPA and those that are not is that collecting debts must be the principal purpose of the business. For example, a collection agency that is also a large credit reporting agency might not be considered a debt collector. The same may hold true for a company that has a side business collecting debts but that generates most of its revenue from another endeavor.

However, there is another element of the FDCPA definition that could apply to those types of companies, namely that which covers anyone who “regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another.”

What are Examples of Debt Collectors Under the FDCPA?

Over the years, courts have ruled that a number of different types of people and entities are considered debt collectors under the FDCPA, including:

  • Creditors who collect debts for one another because of reciprocal collection agreements. For example, is a bank’s customer moves to another state, the bank may ask a bank in that state to collect the debt in exchange for performing a similar service for the other bank
  • A corporate officer that is active in a company’s debt collection activities
  • A debt collection agency owner who doesn’t personally engage in collection activity
  • Debt collection agency stockholders and officers if they are highly involved in collection activities
  • The parent company of a collection agency if the parent company significantly participates in the debt collection process
  • Telecommunication companies that make debt collection easier by obtaining consumers’ unlisted phone numbers through deception
  • A creditor that uses a different name, poses as a collection lawyer or agency, uses a flat rate debt collector, or uses a third party’s name in its collection efforts
  • Repossession, eviction, and foreclosure companies if they are seeking payment from consumers
  • A creditor that hires a company solely to send out debt-collection letters under its name
  • An attorney who regularly collects or attempts to collect consumer debts

What are Examples of Debt Collectors Excluded from the FDCPA?

Just as courts have ruled that there are a number of people and companies that must adhere to the FDCPA, they have also ruled that certain people and companies are exempt from this particular law, including:

  • A creditor’s employees, including their in-house collectors, providing they use their real names
  • Corporate debt collectors that collect for the corporation’s affiliated companies
  • Finance companies that transfer collection accounts because the consumer has moved
  • Federal and state employees
  • Private, nonprofit companies collecting student loans for the U.S. Department of Education
  • In Darrisaw v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (11 Circuit, No 17-12113), the appellate court ruled that a guaranty agency for federal student loans is exempt
  • Process servers
  • Sheriff deputies issuing subpoenas
  • Nonprofit consumer credit counselors
  • Original creditors
  • Retailers who issue credit cards through a bank but that do in-house collections
  • Someone attempting to collect a debt that they received from another individual, if the debt was not in default when it was received
  • In Henson v. Santander Consumer USA (582 U.S. ___ 137 S. Ct. 1718; 198 L. Ed. 2d 177), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that debt buyers are exempt

Debt Collector Violated Your Rights? Fight Back!

If you have been harassed or threatened by a debt collection agency, contact Lemberg Law. The debt collection agency may have violated the FDCPA. If so, you are entitled to recover up to $1,000, as well as attorney fees and court costs. Lemberg Law won’t charge you a dime out of pocket and will go toe-to-toe with the debt collection agency. Call today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Lemberg Law attorneys protect consumers from abusive debt collection agencies. If you are receiving unwanted collection calls at work, then you could have a case against the collection agency. Contact Lemberg Law at 844-685-9200 ☎ or complete our online form for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Have questions? Call us now at 844-685-9200 for a Free Case Evaluation.

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The harassing company pays our fees.


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