The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that certain information must be conveyed to consumers up front during attempts at collection. This information must not just be stated; it must be stated clearly, so that consumers are not confused, and sometimes conspicuously, so that consumers do not miss important information. This complaint alleges that Enhanced Recovery Company, LLC did not make its validation notice either clear or conspicuous.
The class for this action is all consumers to whom Enhanced Recovery sent a collection substantially and materially similar to the letter sent to the plaintiff in this case, where the letter was sent between June 17, 2018 and the present.
The case arose from a debt allegedly owed by Maria Valerio, incurred for personal, family, or household purposes.
At some point in time, the debt was assigned to Enhanced Recovery for collection. The company sent Valerio a debt collection letter dated July 17, 2018. A copy of this letter was attached to the complaint at filing.
The FDCPA requires that debt collectors provide consumers with certain information, either at the initial communication with the debtor or within five days of it.
One of the important pieces of information is a notice that the consumer has the right to dispute the debt, or any part of it, within thirty days of receipt of the collection letter. If the consumer requests it in writing, the debt collector must also provide a verification of a debt or judgment or the name and address of the original creditor for the debt.
While the letter in question in this case does contain the validation notice, it also contains three different addresses. One is preceded by the words “Send correspondence to,” but the other two are on the payment ticket.
The standard by which clarity is normally judged for the purposes of the FDCPA is the “least sophisticated consumer.” The complaint alleges that the least sophisticated consumer would not be sure which address would be the right one for the disputing of the debt.
Also, the complaint claims that the validation notice is not conspicuous enough because of certain other points in the design of the letter. The complaint says, “The Letter sets forth in bolded typeface, the debt collection notice, which diverts the attention away from the validation notice.” In another bolded notice, it says, “NOTICE – SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR IMPORTANT NOTICES AND CONSUMER RIGHTS.” However, the validation notice is not on the reverse side; it is on the first page, “buried within the body of the letter.”