There when you need us. Fighting to protect your rights.
  1. Home
  2.  — 
  3. Harassing Calls And Conduct By Debt Collectors And Creditors
  4.  — 
  5. Unfair and Deceptive Act or Practice Laws by State
  6.  — Pennsylvania Unfair or Deceptive Act or Practice Laws

Some Consumer Protection Laws in Pennsylvania

73 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 201-1 et seq.: What Is It? 

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 73 Chapter 201 is commonly known as the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”). This is a law that protects consumers from deceptive or unfair business practices and methods of competition. The UTPCPL grants the Attorney General the rulemaking authority to enforce the act. Additionally, the Attorney General and District Attorneys have the right to bring an action against a business that violates this law. Similarly, consumers who suffer ascertainable losses can also sue a business under the UTPCPL.

What is prohibited?

The UTPCPL prohibits unfair trade practices and applies to most consumer transactions. The UTPCPL provides a list of some prohibited business practices that would violate the act and some of these actions include, but are not limited to:

  • False advertisement of a good or service that confuses a consumer about the provider of the good or service; and
  • Passing off a good as new if it has in fact been used; and
  • Misrepresenting the qualities or features of a good or service; and
  • Promoting chain letters or pyramid schemes; and
  • Telling a consumer misleading statements about price reductions for a product; and
  • Not abiding by the terms of a written contract or warranty; and
  • Soliciting the sale of a good or service over the phone without providing a consumer with required information like the identity of the caller and the purpose of the call; and
  • Offering compensation to a consumer that is contingent upon the occurrence of a future event.

The UTPCPL also includes a “catch-all” clause that broadly prohibits any other deceptive or fraudulent act that is not included in their list which would likely cause confusion or misunderstanding to a consumer.

Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

The UTPCPL applies to Pennsylvania businesses that use unfair acts or practices when conducting business. A consumer may file a civil claim against a business that they believe has violated the UTPCPL. In Pennsylvania, prior to filing a lawsuit, while consumers do not have to provide the business with a pre-suit notice, they should be able to prove that they have suffered an ascertainable loss of either money or property due to the unlawful actions of the business.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

If a business has been found to have violated the UTPCPL, they would owe a consumer the greater amount between their actual damages or $100. Additionally, per the discretion of the court, the business may also have to pay the consumer up to three times the amount of their actual damages and provide them with reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. Treble damages may be awarded if the business’ conduct is considered by a court to be intentional or reckless wrongful conduct for which an award of treble damages would be remedial in nature.

What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations for a UTPCPL claim is six years, which means that a consumer must file a claim pursuant to the statute within six years from the date that an alleged wrongdoing occurred.

73 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 42: What Is It?

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 73 Chapter 42, also known as the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (“FCEUA”), is a state law that prohibits unfair acts during debt collection processes and provides legal rights to consumers. Pennsylvania’s FCEUA is similar to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) but while the federal law only applies to debt collectors, the FCEUA applies to both debt collectors and creditors.

What is prohibited?

The FCEUA prohibits debt collectors and creditors from engaging in unlawful acts when they are attempting to collect a debt. For debt collectors, the FCEUA states that they cannot engage in any debt collection practices that would violate the regulations provided by the FDCPA. For example, some unlawful actions would include, but are not limited to:

  • Threatening to use violence or harm against a consumer; and
  • Misrepresenting the amount of a consumer’s debt; and
  • Speaking to a consumer using profane or abusive language; and
  • Threatening to take a consumer’s property without having the legal right to do so; and
  • Attempting to collect interest or fees in addition to a consumer’s original debt if their contract or state law does not legally allow it.

For creditors, the FCEUA contains a list of unlawful practices that would be considered a violation of the act. The acts that a creditor cannot engage in are very similar to those that a debt collector cannot engage in. Some examples of these unlawful practices include, but are not limited to:

  • Misrepresenting that they are affiliated with the police, an attorney, or a government agency; and
  • Communicating directly with a consumer if they are being represented by an attorney; and
  • Placing calls to a consumer at inconvenient times or places; and
  • Threatening to take an action that they cannot or do not intend to take; and
  • Collecting an amount that is not permitted by the original agreement; and
  • Communicating with a consumer using a postcard.

Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

The FCEUA applies to both debt collectors and original creditors. This means that consumers can sue third-party collectors like collection agencies, debt buyers, and collection law firms, as well as creditors like banks, financial companies, and other lenders. Because a violation of the FCEUA is also a violation of the UTPCPL, if a consumer believes that a debt collector or creditor has violated the act, they can sue the business under the UTPCPL.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

If a consumer prevails with their lawsuit, they can collect the same types of damages as put forth under the UTPCPL.

The statute of limitations period for debt in Pennsylvania:

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations period for most types of debt is four years, so creditors generally cannot sue a consumer for nonpayment of a debt that has been in default for more than four years. The statute of limitations periods for auto loan debt, credit card debt, medical debt, and mortgage debt in Pennsylvania are all four years long.  Once the statute of limitations period on a debt expires, a creditor cannot successfully sue a consumer for nonpayment of the debt. If a consumer promises to make a payment on an alleged debt, or makes even a small payment, it could potentially restart the clock on the statute of limitations.

Some of the places that a consumer can look to for help or answers to questions:

The laws and statutes discussed above can change. So, in the state that a consumer resides in, a consumer protection agency, the Office of the Attorney General, and/or a consumer protection attorney who is licensed in a consumer’s respective state can help a consumer in getting help, up to date information and interpretations, and/or with determining the answers to their questions in regard to the aforementioned laws. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can assist as well.