One of the most important things debtors needs to know is the amount they owe and whether that amount is stable or increasing. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) tries to ensure that consumer debtors are provided with all the information they need to make the best decisions about paying their debts. But the complaint for this class action claims that Alltran Financial, LP
The class for this action is
Plaintiff Natalya Teplitskaya allegedly incurred a debt to American Express for personal purposes. At some point, the account was given to Alltran for collection.
Alltran sent Teplitskaya a collection letter dated February 16, 2018. A copy of this letter is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A. The letter stated, among other things, “As of the date of this letter, you owe $788.25.”
The FDCPA says, “A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.” Among the possibly false, deceptive, or misleading representations, it cites the false representation of “the character, amount, or legal status of any debt…” as well as “the use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt o collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.”
The problematic part of the letter is the phrase “As of the date of this letter…” This phrase implies that the amount of the debt may increase at a later date. The complaint cites earlier cases as supporting this contention.
According to the complaint, the letter should clearly state whether the amount will or will not increase. This allows a consumer to know how to prioritize payments of debts, it says. The suggestion that a debt amount may increase can pressure the consumer to pay that one first and thereby deprives the consumer of information needed to make the best decisions about payments.
The complaint says that the collection letter can be read by the least sophisticated consumer as having two or more meanings, one of which is inaccurate, and therefore it violates the FDCPA.