The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors provide consumers with certain information in their first communication or within a short time thereafter. However, the complaint for this class action brings suit against IC System, Inc. (ICS) for a debt collection letter that is not the first communication but which may confuse consumers with a vague reference to consumer rights that are not listed in the letter. The complaint brings suit under the FDCPA and Wisconsin state law.
At issue in the case is a debt collection letter sent to Kari Makurat which was dated January 8, 2019. Makurat allegedly owed a debt, incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. The letter is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A.
Since the letter is believed not to be the first communication with Makurat about the alleged debt, it does not need to contain the information required by the FDCPA. However, it does contain the following statement: “This does not contain a complete list of the rights consumers have under Federal, State, or Local laws.” The line is in the middle of the body of the letter, with large, blank spaces above and below it.
This, the complaint says, is confusing and misleading: “The consumer, faced with an instruction to reference ‘a list of the rights consumers have under Federal, State, or Local laws’ in the middle of a large, blank section of a debt collection letter would be confused and misled, and would wonder whether she was actually provided the ‘consumer rights’ she was supposed to receive.” The complaint claims that the line also implies that a list of such rights is included somewhere in the communication.
The FDCPA forbids debt collectors from using “any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.” Wisconsin law has similar provisions.
Two classes have been proposed for this action.