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:
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