One of the aims of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is clarity for the consumer debtor. However, the complaint for this class action claims that debt collector DeVille Asset Management, Ltd. sowed confusion for plaintiff Sedrick Woods in its collection letter.
The class for this action is all persons similarly situation in Alabama from whom DeVille Asset Management tried to collect a defaulted consumer debt, using the same form collection letter that DeVille sent to Sedrick Woods, from June 20, 2017 to the present.
The FDCPA requires that within five days of an initial contact with a consumer, a debt collector must provide the consumer with certain pieces of information. One of those pieces of information is the consumer’s right to dispute the debt or any portion of it within thirty days. If the consumer does dispute the debt, the debt collector must provide verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against the debtor.
Plaintiff Woods allegedly owed a debt to GM Services and defaulted on it. At some point, the debt was transferred to DeVille for collection. DeVille sent Woods a letter on or about February 27, 2018 attempting to collect this debt. The letter is attached to the original complaint as Exhibit A.
The letter contained this line: “You have thirty (30) days to make arrangements for payment or further collection efforts will commence.” Only after saying this does the letter provide Woods with the mandatory notice that he has the right to dispute the debt within thirty days.
The earlier sentence, the complaint says, conflicts with the notice of Woods’s rights and does not explain how they fit together. How can he have thirty days to dispute the debt if he must also have it paid within thirty days?
The FDCPA requires that debt collection letters be regarded from the point of view of the “least sophisticate consumer,” but even a more sophisticated consumer might be confused as to how both things should be accommodated.
The complaint claims that the demand for payment within thirty days “ineffectively conveyed or rendered ineffective the 30-day validation notice” thus violating the FDCPA.