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“Time Sensitive” Warning Not Violative of FDCPA

Link: Preston v. Midland Credit Management, Inc., No. 18 C 1532 (N.D. Ill., Sept. 4, 2018)

Plaintiff, through the firm Sulaiman Law Group, Ltd., filed a putative class action claiming that the “TIME SENSITIVE” stamped on the outside of a debt collector’s letter violated § 1692e(2)(A), e(10), and § 1692f of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it implied a false sense of urgency. MCM was represented by Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP.

§ 1692f(8) specifically prohibits:

using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by the use of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business.

§ 1692(e)(2)(a) prohibits the “false representation of [ ] the character, amount or legal status of any debt;” and § 1692(e)(1), prohibits the “use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.”

Preston claimed that the phrase “TIME SENSITIVE DOCUMENT,” on its own and when considered in combination with MCM’s discount offer urging him to “act now” plus the phrase “we are not obligated to renew any offers provided” violated these sections by creating a false sense of urgency.

The court, judge Sara L. Ellis, disagreed:

MCM’s use of language on the outside of the envelope falls within the benign language exception to § 1692f(8) and so Preston’s § 1692f(8) claim fails. The Court also finds that this language, alone or in combination with the discount offer, does not violate § 1692e(2)(A) or e(10) because MCM properly employed safe harbor language approved by the Seventh Circuit in connection with its discount offer.

Judge Ellis dismissed the FDCPA claims with prejudice but allowed Plaintiff to try to plead the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act claim in state court.

 

Posted in FDCPA, ICFA

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