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Do you have debt you can't afford to pay?

Are You Receiving Social Security, Pension or Disability Income?


HELPS is a nonprofit law firm and 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We serve senior citizens and disabled persons struggling with debt.

Call HELPS now to learn how your retirement income is protected by law and how we can help.

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Need immediate help? Call 855-435-7787 to speak to a HELPS representative.

Debt Collectors vs. Creditors

The Differences Between an Original Creditor and a Debt Collector

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects debtors against abusive collection tactics by debt collectors. There is a difference between “creditors” and “collectors.” A creditor is defined as the person or entity that extended you the credit in the first place (the original lender). The FDCP does not apply to your original creditor. Congress created the FDCPA to prohibit collectors from using unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices when collecting consumer debts. However, the FDCPA generally only applies to third-party debt collectors, not an original creditor.

HELPS is a 501 (c) nonprofit law firm is a national law firm that represents seniors and disabled persons in order to prevent harassment by collectors. Many seniors do not realize that Social Security, pensions, disability and VA benefits are protected by federal law. This money does not need to be used to pay old debt. The FDCPA also provides that when a person is represented by an attorney, such as HELPS, the collector must communicate with the attorney, not the debtor.

Since the FDCPA is designed to protect debtors against third-party debt collectors, it does not apply to your original creditor or its employees. However, there are exceptions. If a creditor is collecting its own debts, the creditor will not be exempt from the FDCPA if it uses a different name that implies a third party is attempting to collect the debt.

There are other exceptions. The FDCPA does not apply to business debts, government employees when collecting a debt, or persons not regularly engaged in the business of collecting debts. It also does not apply to debts obtained as security in a commercial credit transaction with the original creditor, such as a mortgage.

Then there are some creditors that simply don’t follow the law because they cannot be sued – such as internet pay day loans that are located overseas. Also, scam collectors regularly flout the law.

However, HELPS has learned that even original creditors who are not technically covered by the FDCPA will often cease contact with a debtor when they are notified by HELPS that we represent a person for purposes of communication. If the original creditor does continue to send communication, a HELPS client can always submit a “change of address” form to the creditor with our address and phone number on it. That way our client doesn’t continue to receive the bill.

Seniors can learn more about HELPS and how we protect seniors and disabled persons from unwanted collector contact by visiting our website or calling toll free 855 435 7787. HELPS turns no qualified senior away, and the most common thing we hear from the people we help is “HELPS brought peace back to my life.”


Eric Olsen, Executive Director HELPS nonprofit law firm.

Find Out More About HELPS

Peace of Mind
These HELPS clients were dealing with harassing debt collectors and anxiety over old Debt. HELPS provided a solution to their financial worries.