The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) tries to prevent the abuse and misleading of consumers in the collection of debts by third-party collection companies. Part of this protection lies in requiring debt collectors to provide consumers with specific and accurate information about their rights, including their right to dispute the debt. The complaint for this class action alleges that Lyon Collection Services, Inc. gave an inaccurate account of rights when it omitted to state that the consumer must dispute the debt in writing.
The class for this action is
Plaintiff Hindy Pomerantz allegedly incurred a consumer debt with Lenovo. At some point, the debt was assigned to Lyon Collection Services for collection.
Lyon sent Pomerantz a letter dated August 13, 2018 in an attempt to collect the debt. A copy of this letter is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A.
The FDCPA requires that a debt collector like Lyon must provide certain information in writing, either in its first contact with the client or within five days after it. Among other things, it must provide information about the consumer’s right to dispute the debt, or any part of it.
This includes a statement saying that the debt will be considered valid unless the consumer disputes it within thirty days of receipt of the letter. It also includes “a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against the consumer” and will mail a copy to the consumer.
Another important provision is that “if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty day period . . . that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed . . . the debt collector shall cease collection . . . until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt . . . and a copy of such verification is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.”
In other words, the debt collector must temporarily stop trying to collect the disputed debt—but only if the dispute is put in writing. If the dispute is not made in writing, the consumer’s rights are not fully guaranteed.
The letter begins the relevant sentences this way: “If you notify this office in writing…” According to the complaint, this implies that putting the dispute in writing is voluntary. It does not tell consumers that their rights will not be fully protected if the dispute is not put in writing.