Distinguishing Creditor from Debt Collector Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers against abusive practices by debt collectors.  The purpose of this article is to educate consumers about what constitutes an abusive practice, and inform consumers of their legal rights.  If you have been the victim of abusive debt collection practices, protect your legal rights with aid of an experienced New York debt defense attorney.


First, it is important to understand who the FDCPA applies to.  In the world of debt collection, three of the most common parties are the consumer, the original creditor, and the debt collector.  The consumer is individual or entity that owes the debt.  The original creditor is the individual or entity who lends the money.  The debt collector is the person who takes actions to collect the debt.  A source of confusion is that, while the creditor and the debt collector share the same goal of collecting a debt, they are often not the same party.  Sometimes, original creditors hire debt collectors to collect the debt from the consumer; in other cases creditors sell the debts outright to debt collectors. Importantly, if the original creditor sells consumers’ accounts to a debt-buying company after the debts have gone into default, and then the debt buyer tries to collect on those debts, the debt buyer is considered a debt collector.


The FDCPA only applies to the debt collector; it does not apply to the original creditor, with one exception: the FDCPA does apply when the original creditor and its employees hold themselves out as third parties engaged in the debt collector role.  Let’s consider an example.  Consumer Joe owes a debt to Creditor Sal.  Rather than hiring an outside debt collector to collect the debt from Consumer Joe, Creditor Sal elects to collect the debt itself.  However, when acting as debt collector, Creditor Sal does not announce itself as Creditor Sal.  Instead, Creditor Sal rechristens itself Debt Collector Jim Bob in communications such as phone calls, written correspondence, and electronic mail.  In such circumstances, the FDCPA applies.




Because the law prevents creditors from trying to operate as a sham third party (when it is really acting on its own behalf) to evade its responsibility to abide by the FDCPA.  Well, then, how do you know when a creditor is pretending to be a third party, and when a creditor has actually hired a legitimate third party debt collector?  Research and familiarity with the debt collection industry helps, for sure.


An experienced New York debt collection attorney is precisely the type of individual that can do the research necessary, and is deeply familiar with the laws and players in the debt collection industry.  If you have been the victim of abusive debt collection practices, a skilled attorney will get to the bottom of the question is who is who in regards to the question of whether creditor and debt collector are separate or identical parties with regard to the collection of your debt.  If the FDCPA has been violated in your case, your attorney will fight to protect your rights and hold those accountable who have violated them.