Dispute Notices in Debt Collection Letter May Confuse Debtors, Violating FDCPA

Caprio v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group, LLC

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (3rd Cir.) ruled against a debt collection agency sued for fair debt collection practice violations.

The case involves debt collection conduct alleged to be confusing to the “least sophisticated consumer” in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The alleged confusion resulted from two conflicting collection notices included within the same debt collection letter.

The front of the debt collector letter states:

If we can answer any questions, or if you feel you do not owe this amount, please call us toll free at 800-XXX-XXXX [Redacted] or write us at the above address. This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose. (NOTICE: SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION.)

The back of the debt collector letter states:

This is an attempt to collect a debt from a debt collection agency. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

Pursuant to Sec. 809 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, unless you notify this office within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid. If you notify this office in writing within 30 days from receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will: obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgement [sic] and mail you a copy of such judgement [sic] or verification. [emphasis added] If you request this office in writing within 30 days after receiving this notice, this office will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.

The recipient of the debt collection sued the debt collector for violation of the FDCPA, arguing these two portions of the collection letter would confuse the “least sophisticated consumer” because the front of the letter invited the debtor to call the collection agency on the telephone to inform them of any disputes, whereas the back of the letter states disputes must be “in writing” in order for the debtor to be entitled to “verification of the debt”.

If you have received a confusing credit card debt settlement notice it may be a violation of federal debt collection laws including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Don’t fall victim to a confusing debt collection letter or other debt collection harassment.

Our debt collection defense firm has been responding to debt collection letters from collection agencies like Forster & Garbus LLP and Cohen & Slamowitz LLP / Selip & Stylianou LLP for many years. Contact a professional credit card debt settlement lawyer at our law office for a free case review, and find out how the debt collection agency may be required to pay you money and pay your legal fees.

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