State laws limit how long a consumer may be sued over a debt. Once that time period has expired, debt collectors cannot sue to collect. However, if the consumer makes a payment after that, the right to sue may be revived. The complaint for this class action alleges that Convergent Outsourcing violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) when it did not warn consumers with expired debts that any payment they made might revive its right to sue them.
The class for this action is all persons in California who received at least one collection letter from Convergent, between February 26, 2018 and the date of class certification in this action, which contained language substantially similar to the collection letter in this case.
The FDCPA tries to protect consumers from deceit or abuse when third-party debt collectors try to collect on their debts. To do this, it is very specific about what information debt collectors must provide to consumers. It also forbids debt collectors from confusing or misleading consumers.
Plaintiff Brian K. Davis allegedly incurred a consumer debt with T-Mobile for $220.09. At some point, Convergent was assigned the right to collect the debt.
On February 2, 2019, Davis received a dunning letter from Convergent. A copy of the letter is attached to the original complaint as Exhibit A. When the letter was sent, the statute of limitations on the debt had expired.
The letter offered to settle the debt for 40% of the total amount due and included a detachable coupon for payment. It contained the statement, “The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it.” What the letter did not say was that if Davis paid so much as a penny on the stale debt, the statute of limitations could be revived and Convergent would be entitled to sue him over it.
The FDCPA forbids third-party debt collectors from sending consumers confusing or misleading letters. It also forbids the “false representation of … the character, amount, or legal status of any debt…”
The complaint claims that the first misleading aspect of the letter is the phrase “…we will not sue you for it.” According to the complaint, this does not state that Convergent cannot sue Davis over it; it implies that it has chosen not to sue and might change its mind at a future date.
The other misleading aspect is Convergent’s urging Davis to pay while not acknowledging that any payment will worsen his situation by once again allowing Convergent to sue.
In addition to violations of the FDCPA, the complaint claims violations California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.