Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a debt collector is defined as any person, company, or law firm that regularly collects, or attempts to collect, consumer debt for a creditor when the debt is in default.
Sometimes the creditor will assign collection of debt to a collector for a specific period of time. Other times, the creditor may sell the debt to a debt buyer (a company that buys old debt for the purpose of collecting it.)
Creditors that collect their own debts from an internal collection department are not considered debt collectors under the FDCPA. But if the creditor uses a false name, and is acting as a collector under that name, it may be considered a debt collector under the FDCPA.
In circumstances where auto loan deficiencies are being collected, Lawyers and repossession agents may also be considered as debt collectors under the FDCPA.