The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that, within five days of a debt collector’s initial contact with a consumer, it provide certain information, including the consumer’s right to dispute the debt. The complaint for this class action claims that Enhanced Recovery Company, LLC did not provide information in its letter to plaintiff Avrohom Bluming about his right to dispute the debt or any portion of it.
The class for this action is
Plaintiff Bluming allegedly incurred a debt with Barclays Bank Delaware in connection with an AAdavantage Aviator Red MasterCard for personal purposes. At some point, the account was given to Enhanced for collection purposes.
On or around June 15, 2017, Enhanced sent Bluming a letter, which is attached to the complaint as an exhibit, trying to collect the debt. The complaint claims that this was Enhanced’s initial communication with Bluming.
The letter contained the following line: “Send correspondence to ERC, P.O. Box 57610, Jacksonville, FL 32241.”
The standard for interpreting lines in a debt collection letter for compliance with the FDCPA is the understanding of the “least sophisticated consumer.” The above line, the complaint says, would cause least the least sophisticated consumer to believe that the debt could be disputed only in writing. However, the complaint points out that it is a violation of the FDCPA to require that disputes of the debt be in writing. The letter does contain a telephone number, but that number is presented as referring to payments.
According to the complaint, it is a violation to include language in a letter that overshadows the informational requirements of the FDCPA, or that contradicts those requirements. While the letter did not explicitly say that communications had to be in writing, the statement about sending correspondence by mail could be read to have two different meanings, one of which is false. Thus this letter fails to comply with the validation notice requirements, the complaint says.