Plaintiff Chelsea Leonard received a debt collection letter with a serious, threatening tone: “All reasonable efforts to resolve your seriously delinquent account have been exhausted. This is our final notification... Arrangements must be made immediately to avoid credit bureau reporting to the three major credit reporting agencies for up to seven years.” The complaint for this class action claims that this letter is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in more than one respect.
The class for this action is
Congress passed the FDCPA in an attempt to curb abusive debt collection practices. The law attempts to set forth what information third-party debt collectors must provide to consumers and how consumers may dispute alleged debts, and it also forbids oppressive, false, or questionable tactics in collection attempts.
Leonard allegedly owed a debt to Credit Innovations for credit repair services for personal purposes. At some point, Credit Innovations assigned Accounts Receivable to collect the debt.
On or around September 5, 2017, the company sent Leonard the collection letter quoted above, which is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A.
The complaint takes issue with one statement in particular: “Arrangements must be made immediately to avoid credit bureau reporting to the three main credit reporting agencies for up to seven years.”
First, the complaint says, this statement is false, because the debt can only be reported on Leonard’s credit report for a maximum of seven years after the default. Since Leonard defaulted on the debt well before the date of the letter, it would be illegal for the company to report the debt for up to seven more years. The complaint says that this threat is therefore a deceptive tactic to coerce Leonard to pay up by threatening to harm her credit report for longer than permitted by law.
Second, the complaint says that, under the FDCPA, “a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.” The complaint claims that Accounts Receivable is doing exactly that in threatening Leonard with measures it cannot legally take, in order to get her to pay up on her debt.
The complaint asks for statutory damages, actual damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses.