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  • District Court holds that a debt buyer qualifies as a debt collector under the FDCPA

    Courts

    On May 25, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that a debt buyer of time-barred debt qualified as a “debt collector” under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The consumer (plaintiff) sued a debt collector and a debt buyer after receiving collection letters from the collector requesting she contact it to discuss settlement. The plaintiff alleged both companies violated the FDCPA by implying the debts were legally enforceable when, in fact, the statute of limitations had run. In rejecting the defendants’ motion to dismiss, the court found that the debt buyer’s “principal purpose of business is debt collection, either directly or through another collector” and therefore it is a debt collector under the FDCPA. The court also rejected the defendants’ arguments that the consumer did not adequately plead a violation of the FDCPA, holding that the collection letter—even though it did not threaten litigation or include a payoff amount—could mislead “the least sophisticated debtor” into believing she had a legal obligation to pay a time-barred debt because it called on plaintiff to contact it to discuss “settlement options” and specifically noted that the collector was not obligated to accept any payment proposal. The court also found that the letter may leave the least sophisticated debtor “uncertain as to her dispute rights under the [FDCPA]” and should have contained a “reconciling statement.”

    Courts FDCPA Debt Buyer Debt Collection Unsophisticated Debtor

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  • Oregon Governor Enacts Law Regarding Compliance Requirements for Debt Collection Licensees

    State Issues

    On August 2, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law House Bill 2356 (HB 2356), which establishes provisions relating to debt collection practices in the state. Among other things, the law (i) details the practices a debt buyer, or debt collector acting on behalf of a debt buyer, is required to follow to legally collect debt; (ii) specifies the type of notice and documents that a debt buyer must provide to a debtor; (iii) requires persons engaged in debt buying to obtain or renew their licenses through the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and (iv) specifies duties of licensees, outlines prohibited conduct, and identifies unlawful collection practices. The law takes effect January 1, 2018.

    State Issues State Legislation Debt Collection Debt Buyer Compliance

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  • Maine Amends Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to Enact Debt Collection Requirements for Debt Buyers

    State Issues

    On June 16, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law amendments (H.P. 836) to the state’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Maine FDCPA) to promote the fiscally responsible collection of purchased debts. Changes affect the definitions of charge-off, debt buyer and resolved debt, as well as licensing and documentation requirements, transferring debt ownership, collection actions, and civil penalties.

    The law now considers a “debt buyer” to be a debt collector, and defines a debt buyer as a person “regularly engaged in the business of purchasing charged-off consumer debt for collection purposes, whether the person collects the debt or hires a [third] party, which many include an attorney-at-law, in order to collect the debt.” Notably, the definition excludes supervised financial organizations or a person that “acquires charged-off consumer debt incidental to the purchase of a portfolio predominantly consisting of consumer debt that has not been charged off.” Debt buyers must comply with existing licensing requirements and criminal background checks under the provisions of Maine FDCPA Section 11031.

    The law will apply to a debt buyer with respect to debt sold to the debt buyer on or after January 1, 2018. Furthermore, it will not “affect the validity of any collection actions taken, civil actions or arbitration actions commenced or judgments entered into prior to January 1, 2018.”

    State Issues State Legislation Debt Collection Debt Buyer FDCPA

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