If a debt collector does not properly identify the original creditor for a debt, it’s difficult for a consumer to know if she in fact owes the debt. The complaint for this class action claims that a debt collection letter from Northstar Location Services, LLC falsely identified the original creditor, making the letter misleading and confusing. Misleading and confusing debt collection letters are a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
The class for this action is
Plaintiff Colleen Kazar allegedly owes a debt that was incurred for personal, family, or household purposes.
At some point, the debt was assigned to Northstar for collection. On or around July 5, 2017, Northstar sent Kazar a debt collection letter. This letter, the initial communication from Northstar to Kazar, is attached to the complaint as an exhibit.
The letter says that the creditor is Barclays Bank. However, it also says that the original creditor was American Express. Kazar did not have an account with American Express and did not owe that company money.
The FDCPA requires that a debt collection provide a consumer with certain information, either in its initial communication with the consumer or within five days after that. One of these pieces of information is the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. The complaint claims that it’s not enough to simply have the name somewhere in the letter; it must be stated clearly.
In judging compliance with the FDCPA the standard is the “least sophisticated consumer.” The complaint claims that because of the addition of American Express as the original creditor, the letter would be likely to confuse and mislead the least sophisticated consumer as to whether this debt is actually owed or not.
According to the complaint, the letter also violates the FDCPA because it can be read as having different meanings. The complaint says, “A letter is deceptive under [the FDCPA] if it can reasonably be read by the least sophisticated consumer to have two or more meanings, one of which is inaccurate.” Also, the complaint says, the statement that the original creditor is American Express is simply false.