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Collection Letter Seeking Debtor’s Info May Violate FDCPA

Link: Niland v. ALLIANCE COLLECTION AGENCIES INC., Case No. 17-CV-722 (E.D. Wisc., Sept. 28, 2018).

Debt collector sent a letter stating as follows:

If you are unable to pay the Amount Due in full, please contact our office to complete a financial assessment. This assessment will enable us to determine whether you may qualify for settlement of this debt for less than the full payment. To discuss this option, or if you have questions, you may also contact our office at 1-800-215-1547 and will be happy to assist you.

Plaintiff filed suit alleging this request was a confusing, deceptive, or misleading statement to the unsophisticated consumer, and a material misrepresentation provoking the consumer into providing financial information to a debt collector on false pretenses, all in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e, 1692e(5), 1692e(10), and 1692f of the FDCPA.

The court, judge Nancy Joseph, allowed this claim to survive a motion to dismiss:

I find that plaintiffs have adequately pled that Alliance’s letter was a violation of the FDCPA. The Seventh Circuit has described the unsophisticated consumer, for FDCPA purposes, as “uninformed, naïve and trusting,” and only possessing basic knowledge of the financial sphere. Williams v. OSI Educational Services, Inc., 505 F.3d 675, 678 (7th Cir. 2007) (internal citation omitted). Further, the FDCPA provides that consumers have a right to ask a debt collector to refrain from contacting them. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692c; Johnson v. Alltran Education, LP, Case. No. 17-CV-6616, 2018 WL 2096374 at *4 (N.D. Ill. May 7, 2018). Thus, an unsophisticated consumer could view a letter seeking financial information as the only means of settling a debt, when in fact, a consumer could prohibit communication from the debt collector.

Posted in FDCPA

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