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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District Court finds telephone numbers did not overshadow debt validation notice

Courts FDCPA Debt Collection Debt Verification

Courts

On February 28, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed a putative class action alleging a debt collector violated the FDCPA by sending a collection letter, which allegedly failed to properly notify the plaintiff of his right to dispute the debt. According to the opinion, the collection agency sent a one-page collection letter notifying him that a dispute must be in writing. The letter also contained two telephone numbers and requested the consumer call with any questions or concerns. In his complaint, the consumer argued that the inclusion of the phone numbers and request for telephone contact, “overshadows or contradicts” the debt dispute notice required by law. The collection agency moved for judgment on the pleadings and dismissal, arguing that the consumer failed to state a legal claim under the FDCPA. The court agreed, stating that “nothing about the form of the letter overshadows or contradicts the information in the validation notice.” Specifically, the sentence that requested the consumer call the collection agency does not mention disputing the debt, and the only reference to disputing the debt is in the standard validation notice one paragraph below, which specifies it must be done in writing. Because the consumer’s FDCPA claims failed, the court entered judgment and dismissed the action.

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