The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors provide certain information to consumer debtors, either at the first communication or within five days thereafter. One of those pieces of information is the amount of the debt, including whether and how the amount will increase. The complaint for this class action alleges that Universal Fidelity, LP has sent out debt collections letters that do not state the amount of the debt at all.
The class for this action is all consumers to whom Universal Fidelity sent a collection letter substantially and materially similar to the letter sent to the plaintiff in this case, between July 3, 2018 and the present.
Suleyman Kucur allegedly owes a debt incurred for personal, family, or household purposes.
At some point, the alleged debt was assigned to Universal for collection. Universal sent Kucur a collection letter dated July 18, 2018.
In that letter, the words “Balance Due” are not followed by any sum. No indication is given as to how the amount might rise due to interest, fees, or other amounts.
The FDCPA requires that information that must be provided to consumers about their alleged debts must be clear and not ambiguous, false, or misleading. The standard against which clarity is judged is often the “least sophisticated consumer.” The plaintiff in an action does not actually have to be such a consumer; it is sufficient if the information would be unclear, ambiguous, or misleading to such a consumer.
A letter that does not state the amount of the debt is obviously not clear about the amount of the debt. Also, the letter includes settlement offers, but the complaint claims that Kucur has no way of knowing if the settlement offers are accurate in terms of their percentage of the debt or the deal they are claiming without knowing the actual amount of the debt.
In addition, a consumer debtor has the right to dispute the amount of the debt, or any part of it, within thirty days after receipt of the receipt of such a letter. The complaint points out that consumers cannot dispute the amount of the alleged debts if no amount is even stated.
Also, if consumers want to dispute the amount of a debt or find out the name of the original creditor, they must do so in writing to preserve all of their rights under the law. The letter at issue gives two different addresses for Universal, one in Houston, Texas and the other in Katy, Texas. It would not be clear which address was the correct one to write to, for the least sophisticated consumer, the complaint says.
Finally, the FDCPA says that collection letters should not contain any statements that are false or misleading.