The Fair Debt Collection Pratices Act (FDCPA) tries to protect consumers from misinformation, undue pressure, and deception, among other things. This complaint claims that debt collectors Solomon and Solomon, PC violated the law by falsely implying in their collection letters that consumer debtors would be better off financially in paying their debts immediately.
The class for this action is
Plaintiff Corrado Piscazzi allegedly owes a consumer debt to Synchrony Bank, which he incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. At some point, the debt was assigned to Solomon and Solomon for collection.
Solomon sent Piscazzi a collection letter dated July 2, 2018. That letter is attached to the complaint as Exhibit A. The letter claimed the total amount of the debt due “as of charge-off” was $925.26. It also contained the following lines: “The total amount of interest accrued since charge-off as $0.00. The total amount of non-interest charges or fees accrued since charge-off as $0.00.”
The FDCPA requires that consumers must be given certain information about their debts, and that that information must be clearly stated, so that there is no ambiguity or confusion. The information must be stated in the debt collector’s first communication with the consumer (in this case, the letter) or within five days of it. One of the pieces of information the debtor must give is the total amount of the consumer’s debt.
However, the complaint claims that the letter has not done this because the way it presents the amount of the debt is ambiguous. It mentions the total amount due “as of charge off” as if this might be different as of a different date. It also seems to anticipate that interest, fees, and other charges might be added as time goes on if Piscazzi does not pay the debt.
The standard for whether statements in a debt collection letter are clear or not is that of an unsophisticated consumer. The complaint claims that an unsophisticated consumer would not be sure of the amount of the debt on any particular date and would think that interest and fees might be added. This would pressure the person to pay the debt as soon as possible because of the suggestion that the total might rise, making it more economical to pay right now.
But the complaint says that this is false. It claims that Solomon had no intention of adding interest and fees and could not have done it legally if it wanted to. It suggests that if Solomon wanted to avoid confusion, it could have entered “N/A” or the like in the fields for the amount of interest and fees, indicating that those were not applicable to the particular debt.
As it is, the letter is misleading and deceptive, the complaint says, and it violates of the FDCPA.