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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District Court holds debt collection letter properly named creditor

Courts FDCPA Debt Collection Least Sophisticated Consumer


On October 21, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted judgment for a debt collection law firm, concluding the law firm properly identified the current owner of the consumer’s debt in its collection letter. According to the opinion, the law firm sent a letter in March 2018 seeking to collect a debt from the consumer. The letter acknowledges the law firm is a debt collector and provides the balance due, a reference number, the last four digits of the associated bank account, and in two places, states “Re: [bank name].” The consumer filed the action against the law firm, alleging it violated the FDCPA because the least sophisticated consumer would be confused as to whether the bank or the law firm is “the creditor to whom the alleged debt is now purportedly owed.” Both parties moved for judgment and the court agreed with the law firm. Specifically, the court noted that the letter refers to the original creditor twice by stating, “Re: [bank name],” and also the subject line of the letter “identifies both the creditor, [the bank], and plaintiff’s account number with that institution,” which “strongly suggests” that the listed bank is the current creditor. Moreover, the court rejected the consumer’s argument that the least sophisticated consumer would understand the bank is the “source” of the debt but would not understand the bank is the “owner” of the debt, concluding that the least sophisticated consumer would “not likely make such a leap” to assume the debt may have been subsequently sold to another party not mentioned in the letter.

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