Debt Collector Revenue Management Corporation Violates FDCPA by Falsely Indicating Suit has Been Filed
A letter from a debt collector to a Massachusetts consumer violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it stated the collector’s name and the consumer’s name with “vs.” between them, held a Massachusetts federal judge.
Case names in court use “vs.” to indicate that there is a lawsuit between the parties. In this case, though, no lawsuit had been filed against the consumer. The debt collector in question was Revenue Management Corporation.
The consumer argued that using “vs.” was a false representation that there was a collection lawsuit filed. This violated the FDCPA, said the consumer, because it is unlawful to make false or misleading statements in connection with collecting a debt. The debt collector admitted that the letter was sent but denied there was a violation.
Debt Collector Can’t Use “vs” With No Lawsuit FiledRuling in favor of the consumer and against the debt collector, the court ruled that using “vs.” in a debt collection letter violated the FDCPA unless there was an explanation that no lawsuit had actually been filed.
“A letter which contains versus language in the absence of pending litigation violates the statute unless the letter contains additional language sufficient to counteract the false impression created by the versus language,” the judge wrote.
Moreover, “even a relatively sophisticated consumer” would be misled, the judge concluded, and there was “nothing whatsoever in Revenue Management’s letter to disabuse the reader of that assumption.”
Collection letters should always be read carefully because making a false, misleading, or abusive claim in such a letter violates the FDCPA.
The case is here: Murray v. Revenue Management Corporation
If you feel a collection letter you received might be unlawful, or that any other collection-related activity might violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, give us a call to see if we can help.