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Pennsylvania Collection Laws

You are protected under several federal laws below. Scroll down to learn more about debt collection harassment, robocalls, unauthorized electronic payments, and credit report problems.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):

The FDCPA has been around since 1977. The FDCPA is a federal law that applies to every state. In other words, everyone is protected by the FDCPA. The FDCPA is essentially a laundry list of what debt collectors can and cannot do while collecting a debt, as well as things debt collectors must do while collecting a debt.

  • Damages:If a collection agency violates any section of the FDCPA, the consumer is entitled to damages up to $1,000.00. Additional damages are warranted in cases where the collector’s collection activities were so egregious the consumer suffered emotional distress. 99% of cases do not involve emotional distress damages.

  • Attorney’s fees: The FDCPA has a fee-shift provision. This means, the collection agency pays the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs.

  • Debt that is covered by the FDCPA: Only consumer debt, such as personal, family, and household debts. For example, money you owe on a personal credit card, an auto loan, a medical bill, or a utility bill. The FDCPA does not cover debts you incurred to run a business, debts regarding unpaid taxes, or traffic tickets.

  • The FDCPA only applies to 3rd-party debt collectors: The FDCPA defines a debt collector as any person who regularly collects, or attempts to collect, consumer debts for another person or institution. In short, only third-party debt collectors are bound by the FDCPA. That is, original creditors, such as credit card companies and banks are not bound by the FDCPA.

Top FDCPA Violations:

  1. Communicated (phone or letter) with you after you filed for bankruptcy.
  2. Communicated (phone or letter) with you after you told the collector you have a lawyer.
  3. Called you about a debt you do not owe after you informed the collector you do not owe the debt.
  4. Called you at work after you told them you cannot receive such calls at work.
  5. Left you a message without identifying the company’s name.
  6. Left you a message without disclosing that the call is from a debt collector.
  7. Called third parties (family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors) even though the collection agency knows your contact information.
  8. Disclosed to a third party (family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors) that you owe a debt.
  9. Contacted you after you told the collection agency, in writing, to stop contacting you.
  10. Threatened you with legal action (such as a lawsuit or wage garnishment) even though the collection agency does not intend to follow through with its threat.
  11. Called you before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.
  12. Continued to call you after you have told the collector you cannot pay the debt.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA):

Have you ever received a phone call from an unknown but local phone number? Chances are you have, most everyone of us has, and when you answered the call you were greeted with silence or some pre-recorded message. After a few awkward seconds and repeating yourself to be removed the list, you hang up frustrated by another robot calling your phone. What do they really want, and why don’t they ever stop calling?

Fortunately for consumers, the TCPA, limits the use of automatic dialing systems, prerecorded voice messages, and unsolicited text messages. Passed in 1991, the TCPA allows for damages ranging from $500.00 – $1,500.00 per call or text. In describing the importance of the TCPA, Senator Hollings, the TCPA’s sponsor, said, “I echo Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who wrote 100 years ago that ‘the right to be left alone is the most comprehensive of rights and the one most valued by civilized man.’”

If a company has your permission to place robocalls to you, you can revoke your consent. If robocalls continue after the consumer says stop calling, the consumer has a TCPA case.

Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA):

The EFTA protects electronic payments that are deducted from bank accounts. If a company took unauthorized deductions from your bank account, you may have an EFTA claim. Most collection agencies want to set up re-occurring payments from consumers. Imagine how much money collection agencies gets if hundreds, if not thousands, of consumers electronically pay them $50-$100, or more, per month. If you a consumer agreed to this type of re-occurring payment, the company must follow certain steps to comply with the EFTA. The EFTA allows for statutory damages up to $1,000.00 and actual damages for the payments made. The EFTA also has a fee-shift provision. This means, the company pays the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

The FCRA works to ensure that no information reported to your credit report is false. In essence, it gives you the right to dispute those inaccuracies that you find on your credit report. Are you one of the 40 million Americans that have a mistake on their credit report? Mistakes on your credit report can be very costly. Along with causing you to pay higher interest rates, you may be denied credit, insurance, a rental home, a loan, or even a job because of these mistakes. Some mistakes may include someone else’s information on your credit report, inaccurate public records, stale collection accounts, or maybe you were a victim of identity theft. If a credit reporting agency violates its obligations under the FCRA, you may be entitled to statutory damages up to $1,000.00, plus the credit reporting agency will be required to fix the error. The FCRA also has a fee-shift provision. This means, the credit reporting agency pays the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Under the FCRA, you have a legal right to dispute and remove inaccurate information from your credit report. These inaccuracies come in three common forms:

  1. Wrong information – Untrue information such as criminal records, driving records, accounts you did not open, mixed or merged files with someone else’s information (such as a family member or someone with the same name), judgments for lawsuits which didn’t involve you, or debts you did not incur can be permanently removed from your credit report.

  2. Duplicate information – Some accounts or transactions may be listed more than once in your credit report, and it’s helpful to ensure that your report is duplicate-free to avoid appearing to have more debt or credit-related problems than you do.

  3. Old and negative information – Most types of outdated negative credit information, such as foreclosures, judgments, liens, lawsuits, and bankruptcy, can be removed after about seven years.

Submitted Comments

1 year ago
My husband took out $160k in student loans between 2006-11. After making large monthly payments for 10 years, he now owes $230k. We can\'t continue paying this unpayable debt and are considering defaulting. I believe Navient has misapplied payments over the years, which have never touched the principal. We want to discuss our options with a consumer law attorney.
11 months ago
Keystone Collections is stating I owe them taxes but cannot send me proof that I owe a tax. I sent them a letter on 11/11 requesting they send proof that I owe this and I have heard nothing from them until 1/3/23. January 3, I received a notice from them stating they were going to garnish my wages in 15 days on taxes that have already been paid. Please let me know if you can assist me in this matter. Thank you Stephanie Eaves
9 months ago
PHEAA has been sending too many notices once the account becomes delinquent (even by only a few days). I have repeatedly demanded they stop the multiple notifications as only 1 is necessary for both my cosigner and myself. They get aggressive over the phone and insistently tell me I need to talk to a lawyer and then they treat me unprofessionally because I want to assert my right to be free of harassment. If you believe I have a case, please reach out to me. I have initiated multiple CFPB cases against them as well. Their responses merit no resolution and they consistently claim that I am in the wrong. Thank You.
9 months ago
There is a woman Andrea Cheslock who lives 2 towns over from me. Somehow my phone number has gotten on her collection file and I am getting harassed by collection agencies, many of whom are telling me they cannot take my phone number off the file unless I can verify that I am not the same person by giving my personal information, such as social security number and address. In the meantime I have great credit and pay my bills but am getting harassed on a daily basis by collection calls that are not intended for me. Was looking to see how I can get the phone calls to stop or what my legal rights are regarding this.
9 months ago
Sallie Mae calls me and third party family members. Years ago when my wife was my gf, they called her parents, my uncle, you name it, said its in the contract and they are allowed. Finally on a payment plan with them but they said until its up to not the red, they can call whomever they want.
3 months ago
Message on voicemail states person is a process server officer wants me to call RSG legal group (866-760-5474)because they are having trouble getting legal forms out to me. I have the recording. As far as I know I have no debt. Clearly this debt collector is not identifying themselves as a debt collector.
2 months ago
Discover Student Loan Repayment is extremely high due to interest/principal and I am seeking assistance with this process with the goal of having temporary lowered repayment options.
Mary Ellen
2 months ago
Hello, A few weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail from a company called AssetCare LLC. They claimed that I have to pay them $20.00 for a debt that I do not remember. They claimed that the debt is from a group called CF Medical who claims that they bought the debt from Lehigh Valley Hospital Network in Pennsylvania. I still did not recognize the debt, so I drew up a debt validation request letter and mailed it to them certified mail. In the letter, I asked for proof of the following: \"Agreement with your client that grants you the authority to collect on this alleged debt. Agreement that bears the signature of the alleged debtor wherein he/she agreed to pay the creditor. Any insurance claims that have been made by any creditor regarding this account. Any Judgments obtained by any creditor regarding this account. Name and address of alleged creditor. Name on file of alleged debtor. The name and address of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed, the account number used by that creditor, and the amount owed. If this debt started with a different creditor, provide the name and address of the original creditor, the account number used by that creditor, and the amount owed to that creditor at the time it was transferred. When you identify the original creditor, please provide any other name by which I might know them, if that is different from the official name. In addition, tell me when the current creditor obtained the debt and who the current creditor obtained it from. Address on file for alleged debtor. Amount of alleged debt. The date this alleged debt became payable. The date of original charge off or delinquency. Verification that this debt was assigned or sold to collector. Copy of the original accounting of alleged debt showing complete itemization and dates for each and every line item. A copy of the last billing statement sent to me by the original creditor. Identify the date of the last payment made on this account. If there have been any additional interest, fees or charges added since the last billing statement from the original creditor, provide an itemization showing the dates and amount of each added amount. In addition, explain how the added interest, fees or other charges are expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or are permitted by law. If there have been any payments or other reductions since the last billing statement from the original creditor, provide an itemization showing the dates and amount of each of them. If there have been any other changes or adjustments since the last billing statement from the original creditor, please provide full verification and documentation of the amount you are trying to collect. Explain how that amount was calculated. In addition, explain how the other changes or adjustments are expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law. Have you made a determination that this debt is within the statute of limitations applicable to it? Tell me when you think the statute of limitations expires for this debt, and how you determined that. Commission for debt collector if collection efforts are successful. I would like more information about your firm before I discuss the debt with you. Does your firm have a debt collection license from my state? If not, say why not. If so, provide the date of the license, the name on the license, the license number, and the name, address and telephone number of the state agency issuing the license. If you are contacting me from a place outside my state, does your firm have a debt collection license from that place? If so, provide the date of the license, the name on the license, the license number, and the name, address and telephone number of the state agency issuing the license. Please provide the name and address of the bonding agent for AssetCare / CF Medical LLC in case legal action becomes necessary. Your claim cannot and WILL NOT be considered if any portion of the above is not completed and returned with copies of all requested documents. This is a request for validation made pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Please allow 30 days for processing after I receive this information back.\" They sent a reply letter stating they need time to find the above. I then received a letter from them yesterday where they admitted that they have no proof of the original debt (they said the files were deleted) and that they\'re simply going by a printout that CF Medical sent to them (which does not seem legitimate), and that I still am required to pay them $20.00. In my original debt validation letter, I informed them not to contact me again unless they could prove all of the requested information, which they have not. They also never provided me with the bond/license, nor the contact information of CF Medical. I even called the hospital and their billing department told me they have no record of that debt ever existing with them on file. I want the harassment from AssetCare LLC and CF Medical to stop and would like to discuss this matter with your office. Thank You
2 months ago
I\'m not sure if this is something I can put a stop to, but I have Resurgent Capital Services collecting for LVNV, for an old QVC debt (maybe 1 or 2 years old). They email me every other day, if not every day. And they\'re also text messaging me with the same frequency. I\'ve not responded to them at all. In the last 30 days I have received 16 emails and 8 text messages.