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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District Court: Debt collectors may rely on information supplied by credit card issuer

Courts Consumer Finance FDCPA Debt Collection Credit Cards

Courts

On December 2, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment in an FDCPA action over an alleged disputed debt, ruling that defendants are allowed to rely on information supplied by a credit card issuer that a “debt owned has been verified and is owed.” The plaintiff opened a credit card in 2015 and stopped making payments on the card in June 2018. After she stopped making payments, the plaintiff sent notices of dispute to the credit card issuer contesting, among other things, whether the issuer owned the account, and received correspondence back from the issuer with information about where disputes about the debt should be directed. The issuer also explained that based on an investigation into her account, the issuer believed the account to be valid. Several months later, the defendants sent a demand letter on behalf of the issuer to the plaintiff using the address associated with the account, and later filed a collection lawsuit in state court seeking judgment to recover the unpaid balance.

The plaintiff sued, accusing the defendants of violating Sections 1692e(2)(A), 1692e(5), and 1692e(10) of the FDCPA when they initiated the collections action. Among other claims, the plaintiff argued that she never received the demand letter. She also contended that the defendants should have known about the disputes. The court, however, agreed with the magistrate judge’s final orders and judgment, which ruled that it is not a requirement of the FDCPA for the defendants to confirm that a notice was received as a condition of filing the state court action. According to the court, the plaintiff identified no evidence that mail sent to the address used by the defendants was returned as undeliverable. The court also agreed that the plaintiff’s notices of dispute “did not challenge that she opened the account or was responsible for the charges,” and that the defendants submitted bank statements showing that the plaintiff made payments on the account.

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