The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors provide consumers with certain information, either at their initial contact with the consumer or within five days of it. The complaint for this class action alleges that Medical Data Systems, Inc., which does business as Medical Revenue Service (MRS) misled consumers by telling them they should dispute debts in writing.
Plaintiff Clarence Stallworth allegedly owed a debt for services he received at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. When the alleged debt went into default after a certain period of time, MRS seems to have been assigned to collect it.
MRS sent Stallworth a collection letter dated July 3, 2019. A copy of the letter was attached to the original complaint at filing.
Consumers have the right to dispute a debt, or any part of it, or ask for validation. The debt collector must provide consumers with information about this right. In discussing this validation right, the complaint alleges that MRS gave Stallworth misleading information.
The letter said, in part, “Unless you notify this office in writing within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid.”
According to the complaint, consumers do not have to dispute the debt in writing. They are entitled to call the debt collector to dispute the debt or any part of it.
The complaint also claims, “In fact, Mr. Stallworth wanted to dispute these debts, but was put off from doing so by the improper requirement that it be done in writing.”
Also, the complaint alleges that debt collectors must supply additional information about validation. It says they must include a statement that, unless the consumer disputes the debt or a portion of it within those thirty days after receipt of the letter, “the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector.”
The FDCPA forbids debt collectors from using any false, deceptive, or misleading representation, or from using any unfair or unconscionable means, in the collection of a debt. The complaint claims that the letter has done that, in saying that a dispute must be written.
The class for this action is all persons in Missouri from whom MRS tried to collect a defaulted consumer debt via the same form collection letter as MRS sent to the plaintiff in this case, between August 23, 2018 and the present.