A class-action lawsuit has been filed against three collection agencies for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by leaving voicemails posing as delivery couriers instead of identifying themselves as debt collectors.
Even after being contacted by the individuals, the people answering the phones would not identify themselves as debt collectors and required the individuals to call another number, which is when the proper identification was provided.
A copy of the complaint in Ania Costa, Manel Ruano, and Roger Ruano v. Account Recovery Solutions LLC, Payment Management Services USA LLC, and Perfection Collection, LLC can be accessed here.
A representative from ARS called one of the plaintiffs and left the following voicemail, according to the complaint, which was filed in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida last Thursday:
This message is for Roger and Mabel Ruano. My name is Emily Stevenson; I’m a private courier in the area. Calling to notify you of sealed documents that need to be delivered to you today and it does require your signature. I am scheduled to stop by your residence this afternoon, so you need to make yourself available with photo identification. I’ll be at [ADDRESS REDACTED]. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the filing office prior to delivery: 800-321-9820. Consider yourself notified. I’ll see you soon.
When the plaintiffs called the number from the message, the representative relayed the same information and provided a different phone number for the plaintiffs to call, according to the complaint. Only when they called that number were they told they were contacting a debt collector and read the mini-Miranda notice required by the FDCPA.
The other two agencies were named in the suit because they retained ARS to collect on their behalf, and are being accused of being vicariously liable for the actions of ARS.
The defendants are accused of violating the FDCPA, specifically:
- Section 1692d(6), which prohibits “the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.”
- Section 1692e(10), which prohibits “The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer”
- Section 1692e(11), which prohibits “The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action”