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Judge Grants Summary Motion For Defense in FDCPA Letter Case

A federal judge in Illinois has granted summary judgment in favor of a collection agency that was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the plaintiff alleged the creditor could have collected interest from the plaintiff through post charge-off fees once the agency closed out his account.

A copy of the ruling in Trischler v. MRS BPO can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff incurred a credit card debt that was placed with the defendant for collection. The defendant sent the plaintiff the following letter:

Dear JACOB D TRISCHLER,

The above referenced creditor has placed your account with our office for collection. We recognize that sometimes circumstances or events can make it difficult to satisfy your financial obligations.

Resolving a long overdue debt is never easy. Often the hardest part is taking the first step. We are ready to assist you to find a solution that is both fair and reasonable. You may even qualify for a discount offer that could save you a substantial amount of money!

Payment may be made by calling . . .

CREDITOR: CHASE BANK USA N.A.
MRS ACCT#: [MRS’ account number follows]
CREDITOR ACCT#: [Chase’s account number follows]
ACCOUNT BALANCE: $794.67

While both the plaintiff and the defendant agreed that the letter did not inform the plaintiff that his balance may increase in the future, nor did it indicate that he may still owe additional interests and fees and that the creditor forbid the defendant from collecting anything more than the balance that was owed, the plaintiff nonetheless filed suit because he argued the letter violated Section 1692g(a)(1) of the FDCPA because it “failed to effectively state the amount of the debt.”

The plaintiff alleged that the letter should have indicated whether the creditor could charge interest on his original debt for the time between when that debt accrued and when he finally paid.

To support his argument, the plaintiff supplied a sample cardholder agreement used by the creditor, but even that did not include anything that would confuse a least sophisticated consumer, the judge ruled.

Absent some particularly ambiguous language in the rest of the letter, this Court finds that a consumer of reasonable intelligence and with a basic knowledge about the financial world would read MRS’ dunning letter with added care and arrive at the conclusion that he owes $794.67 to Chase.

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