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ProCo Collection Letter Validation Notice FDCPA Class Action

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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) attempts to stop third-party debt collectors from using false, misleading, or unfair collection practices and requires them to give accurate information when they attempt to collect debts. The complaint for this class action alleges that BJC & EGC Partners, LLC, who do business as ProCo, did not make it plain that all parts of a consumer’s dispute of a debt must be in writing.

Plaintiff Latasha Bailey allegedly incurred a debt to Main Line Health, for personal, family, or household purposes. At some point, ProCo was assigned to collect the debt.

ProCo sent Bailey a collection letter dated November 18, 2018. For the purposes of the FDCPA, this is the initial communication with Bailey, a consumer. The FDCPA requires that certain information be given to consumers, either in the initial communication or within five days after it.

The information that the consumer must be given is enumerated in the law. Among other things, it includes information about disputing the debt:

  • “[A] statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector…”
  • “[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 judgement against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector…”
  • “[A] statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.”

The Third Circuit has ruled that “any dispute, to be effective, must be in writing.” The complaint says, “Thus, within the Third Circuit, a debt collector’s written disclosure must convey the requirement that a consumer must dispute a debt in writing…” 

The first sentence on this matter in the collection letter does not mention writing. The second begins, “If you notify us in writing…” which implies that a written form is voluntary.

The complaint says, “When coupled with the failure of the first sentence to contain any mention of the word ‘writing,’ the least sophisticated consumer would be confused as to what the actual requirement were for properly disputing the debt.”

The class for this action is

  • All individuals with addresses in the Pennsylvania
  • To whom ProCo sent an initial collection letter trying to collect a consumer debt
  • Which letter omits the complete and accurate requirement that every part of a consumer’s dispute of a debt must be in writing, and
  • Which letter was sent between October 25, 2018 and November 15, 2019.
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