The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) tries to protect consumers from abuses and misstatements by third-party debt collectors. The complaint for this class action claims that Account Services Collections, Inc., one of those third-party debt collectors, violated the FDCPA because it was not clear about the party to whom the debt was owed.
The class for this action is all persons whom Account Services records show lived in Texas, who were sent a collection letter in substantially the same form as the letter in this case, and (a) the collection letter was seeking to collect a debt from a consumer that was incurred for personal, family, or household purposes, and (b) the letter was sent between December 20, 2017 and the present, and (c) the letter was not returned by the postal service as undelivered, and (d) the letter contained violations of the FDCPA for failing to correctly identify the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.
Plaintiff Demetria Traylor allegedly owes a debt for medical services. At some point, the debt was assigned for collection to Account Services.
Account Services sent Traylor a collection letter dated July 30, 2018. A copy of the letter is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A. The letter contained the notation “RE: UTSW Medical Center” and also contains the statement, “Please be advised that your past due account has been referred to this office for collection by UTSW Medical Center.”
The complaint alleges that no entity is registered with the Texas Secretary of State as “UTSW Medical Center.” Also, the complaint says, the letter did not identify the original or current creditor. Under the FDCPA, the debt collector is required to provide to the consumer “the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.”
The standard for clarity under the FDCPA is the “least sophisticated consumer”—that is, if the least sophisticated consumer would find a statement misleading or confusing, then the statement can be said to be misleading or confusing. In this case, the complaint says, the least sophisticated consumer would find the letter misleading and deceptive in that it failed to properly identify the creditor.
The complaint claims that the letter violates the FDCPA both in failing to properly identify the current creditor and in being misleading, among other things.