The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is designed to regulate the debt collection industry and to protect consumers. The FDCPA defines what a debt collection agency is and orders that such agencies provide clear information to customers every time the agency communicates with them. On August 14, 2014, the New York Law Journal reported on a court case where someone challenged a debt collector regarding clear information. The FDCPA cannot send letters that are difficult to understand. Most importantly, these letters cannot be false, misleading or deceptive.

A woman received a letter from a debt collection agency. Part of the letter read, “We may report information about your account to credit bureaus. Correspondence concerning inaccuracies and disputes relating to your credit report should be sent to…”

The woman claimed that this letter would confuse the least sophisticated consumer. She claimed a class action status, meaning she could represent more people than herself, presumably those receiving similar letters. She thinks that this wording would make people less likely to dispute the debt. Additionally, she alleged that the letter would encourage people who did dispute a debt to do so in less helpful manner (disputing the debt with the agency that created the debt as opposed to the credit reporting agencies).

The debt collection agency claimed that the language of the letter was not false, misleading or inaccurate. The company moved to dismiss the debtor’s petition as it did not agree with their client’s conclusions that the least sophisticated consumer who read the letter would find it confusing. The court agreed with the debt collection agency and thus dismissed the debtor’s case.

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