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JVS Group “Demeaning” Collection Letter FDCPA Violations Class Action

Ball and Chain Marked "DEBT"

The complaint for this class action takes issue with a rather odd collection letter, which consists mostly of a single paragraph typed nearly entirely in capital letters—a practice sometimes identified as shouting. The letter is from Christal & Smith Enterprises, Inc., which does business as JVS Group, Inc. The complaint claims that the information in the letter is not just deceptive and misleading but also intended to be demeaning to the recipient, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). 

Strangely, after spending pages on these allegations, the complaint defines a class that is based on a different violation of the FDCPA: 

The class for this action is all persons whom Christal & Smith Enterprises or JVS Group records show lived in Texas and who were sent a collection letter in substantially the same form as that one sent to the plaintiff in this case on or around June 28, 2018, where (a) the letter was sent to a consumer attempting to collect a debt incurred for personal, family, or household purposes, (b) the letter was sent between January 8, 2018 and the present, (c) it was not returned as undelivered by the post office, and (d) the recipient asserts that the letter violates the FDCPA for failing to correctly identify the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.

Plaintiff Leslie Garrett allegedly owes a consumer debt originally incurred to “Memorial Hospital Reas,” according to the letter. At some point the debt seems to have been transferred to JVS for collection, and JVS sent Garrett the letter in question in this case. 

The first line that the complaint takes issue with is this one: “DON’T SEND THE FORM LETTER AGAIN! WE WILL HONOR YOUR REQUEST AND SEND YOU THE INFORMATION. IF YOU STILL HAVE QUESTIONS, PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL OUR OFFICE OR THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR.” The complaint calls these lines “harassing and combative” and notes that Garrett is entitled to send whatever she wishes or contact a party however she wishes to receive more information, dispute the debt, or seek verification.

The complaint also identifies certain lines as intended to demean or belittle Garrett, such as this one: “CREDIT REPAIR ORGANIZATIONS ARE ALSO NOT PERMITTED TO ATTEMPT TO CREATE A “new” CREDIT FILE OR ADVISE YOU TO LIE ABOUT YOUR CREDIT HISOTRY.” After citing several of these, the complaint says, “The Defendant clearly intended the language of the letter to be threatening, disparaging, and demeaning.”

It cites two counts under the FDCPA, (1) for false, deceptive, or misleading collection actions, and (2) for harassment or abuse, false or misleading representation, and unfair practices.

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