The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that third-party debt collectors give consumers specific information that they can use to make the best decisions about when and how to pay their debts. The complaint for this class action alleges that Total Card, Inc. got important information wrong in a debt collection letter sent to the plaintiff in this class action.
The class for this action is all persons in Georgia from whom Total Card tried to collect a defaulted consumer debt allegedly owed to Unifund CCR via the same form collection letter as was sent to the plaintiff in this case, between September 27, 2018 and the present.
The FDCPA requires that a third-party debtor give consumers certain information either at their initial contact or within five days thereof. The information must be clear and accurate.
Plaintiff Alayna Smith allegedly incurred a consumer debt on a Citibank credit card account. Eventually, she fell behind on paying her bills. At some point, the debt seems to have been assigned to Total Card for collection.
Total Card sent Smith a form collection letter dated October 6, 2018. This letter was the initial contact between Total Card and Smith. The letter asked her to pay the debt and offered her various settlement plans.
Farther down, the letter stated, “The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, UNIFUND CCR, LLC cannot sue you for it. If you do not pay the debt, UNIFUND CCR, LLC may report or continue to report it to the credit reporting agencies as unpaid. Total Card, Inc. cannot sue you on this debt and Total Card, Inc. will not credit report this debt.”
Although debt collectors must provide this information if the debt is “stale” or “time-barred,” in this case the information was false. The debt in question was not stale. In fact, Unifund did eventually sue Smith to collect the debt.
“Violations of the FDCPA which would lead a consumer to alter his or her course of action as to whether to pay a debt, or which would be a factor in the consumer’s decision making process, are material[,]” the complaint says. “Telling Ms. Smith that the debt was time-barred and that she could not be sued on it, when, in fact, it was not time-barred and she could be sued to collect the debt, was a material violation of the FDCPA.”
The FDCPA prohibits third-party debt collectors from making false, deceptive, or misleading statements or using unfair or unconscionable means to collect the debt.