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Capital Management Debt Dispute Address Unclear Class Action

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When evaluating a debt collection letter under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the normal standard for whether a debt collector has made things clear is whether the “least sophisticated consumer” would understand the meaning or be confused by it. Most of this complaint concerns allegations that a debt collection letter sent out by Capital Management Services, LP is not as clear as required by the law.

The class for this action is all consumers to whom Capital Management Services sent a collection letter substantially and materially similar to the letter at issue in this case, where the letter was sent on or after June 14, 2018.

The FDCPA covers consumer debts, that is, those incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. Consumers are permitted to sue debt collectors who violate provisions of the law. 

The letter at issue in this case was sent by Capital Management Services to plaintiff Sherry A. Turner. It is dated July 30, 2018.

The first problem cited by the complaint is that the letter provides multiple addresses for Capital Management. It says, “You may contact Capital Management at…” and then provides a street address. It says, “Payments and correspondence should be mailed to…” and provides a post office box address. This is in turn is different from the address on the payment coupon. Finally, the letter says, “Overnight deliveries should be addressed to…” the first address.

This is a problem because consumers have the right to dispute the debt, or any portion of it, within thirty days of receipt of the original letter. Their full rights are only preserved if they make the dispute in writing. The complaint claims that the inclusion of multiple addresses is likely to confuse the least sophisticated consumer about which address would be the right one to use when disputing the debt.

Second, the FDCPA requires not only that certain information must be provided but that other information must not overshadow or contradict the required information. The complaint contends that the letter overshadows the information about validation of the debt because the letter is formatted so that the information is “visually inconspicuous.”

Finally, the FDCPA provides that debt collectors may not communicate about a debt with other parties. Capital Management left a message on Turner’s answering machine, and when she played her messages, her adult daughter heard it. The complaint claims that this too is a violation.

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