Misleading or Confusing Debt Collection Letter
The complaint for this class action involves three different plaintiffs, all of whom were sent virtually the same debt collection letter by RUI Credit Services, Inc.—a letter which the complaint claims is deceptive and confusing, if not outright deceptive. The letter begins by stating that a previous letter was sent to the debtor, but this letter contains notices required to be part of the first communication with a debtor, including the notice that the debtor has thirty days to dispute the debt. The complaint claims that one of two things must be true: (1) The other letter contained the same notice, making this one confusing for the debtor as to when the thirty-day period ends, or (2) the company did not send a previous letter, making this one openly deceptive.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) attempts to keep debt collectors from making deceptive or misleading statements in trying to collect debts, but the complaint for this class action claims that Nationwide Credit, Inc. sent plaintiff Stefano Cafiso a letter that contained two such deceptive statements. The first implied, according to the complaint, that paying his debt in full would improve his creditworthiness and chance of getting credit from Chase in the future. The second said that an offer to settle for less was a limited-time offer only good until a certain deadline, a restriction that the complaint says is not true.
The complaint for this class action alleges that the debt collection letter received by plaintiff Jonathan Guerrero violated the law from the first words on the page—its heading, which begins, “Miller & Milone, PC, Attorneys at Law”. The complaint alleges that the letter violates the FDCPA because it purports to be from a law firm, Miller & Milone, but does not disclose any “meaningful attorney involvement” in connection with the debt. According to the complaint, the least sophisticated consumer would be likely to think that an attorney had personally reviewed the particulars of the individual account—and the complaint alleges that no attorney has done so, and that the consumer would thus be deceived.
The debt collection letter that plaintiff Rachel Labin was sent by The Law Offices of ML Zager, PC does not name a creditor. Instead, it says, “Client Name: Catskill Regional Medicalcenter Center.” The complaint for this class action alleges that this is only one of three ways the letter violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The others include not including the full, unambiguous validation and dispute notice required by the law and using an attorney letterhead when the sender is not in fact acting in the capacity of an attorney.
Plaintiff Annmarie Buck received a debt collection letter dated January 6, 2017, from Associated Credit Services, Inc., that billed her for what the complaint for this class action claims is an unexplained and unlawful fee. Also, the complaint alleges, the letter did not contain sufficient information about the fee and other possible charges to make it compliant with the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
The American Medical Collection Agency—aka Retrieval Masters—sent a debt collection letter to plaintiff Sam Junik, dated February 3, 2017, attempting to collect a defaulted consumer debt, but according to the complaint, the letter violated the FDCPA in two ways. First, the letter identifies Quest Diagnostics, Inc. as the “service provider” but does not make clear whether Quest is the original or current creditor. Second, Junik alleges that he does not owe the debt because he authorized no services and did not agree to pay for them.
The letter sent to plaintiff Joanne Pacheco by debt collector AFNI, Inc. is confusing in a number of respects, the complaint for this class action claims, to the point where it violates provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The letter is unclear as to who the current creditor is, the complaint says, and refers to the company listed as creditor as “Sprint” even though there are over one hundred companies registered in the state whose names begin with “Sprint” and none whose name is simply “Sprint.” Also, the complaint claims that it does not make clear that if Pacheco disputes the debt, no further actions will be taken until the company is able to verify or validate the debt.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) strictly requires that debt collection letters not make false statements, but the complaint for this lawsuit alleges that the debt collection letter sent to plaintiff Leonard Antonelli by Lori C. Greenberg & Associates misstates the amount of Antonelli’s alleged debt. Accompanying the letter was an unfiled complaint that showed the same amount and that admitted that it included attorneys’ fees and court costs in the amount of $280 and $70 respectively, or $350 total. At the time of the letter, the complaint claims, no lawsuit had yet been filed, no judgment had been entered against Antonelli, and no such amount had been awarded to the company by any court.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) specifies that when a debt collection attempts to collect a debt via a letter, it must include certain information in the letter—and it must not contradict or overshadow that information by other statements that might confuse the “least sophisticated consumer” who might receive such a letter. According to the complaint for this class, action, Immediate Credit Recovery, Inc. sent a letter to plaintiff Kimali Q. Corley that says, “if you do not dispute the validity of this debt, and to prevent further collection activity from being taken, you must make payment in full directly to Immediate Credit Recovery, Inc.” According to the complaint, this statement could confuse an unsophisticated consumer about her rights, because it overshadows the right to dispute the debt.
According to the complaint for this class action, the letters sent by FMA Alliance, Ltd. violate the FDCPA by omitting important information or by “overshadowing” information with statements that sound misleading or contradictory. First, the letter vaguely mentions interest and fees that may accrue, but provides no specifics; and second, according to the complaint, it implies that disputation of the debt or amount owed must be in writing.