The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit ruling that a defendant did not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using a registered DBA and referring to itself as “professional debt collectors” in a collection letter that was signed by an individual who was not licensed to collect debts in the state in which the plaintiff resided.
A copy of the ruling in Klein v. Credico Inc. can be accessed by clicking here.
The defendant sent the plaintiff, a resident of Minnesota, a collection letter. In Minnesota, the defendant is licensed as, and does business as Credit Collections Bureau, which was included at the top of the letter. In the letter, the phrase “professional debt collectors” was used, as was an acronym for the company, CCB. The letter was also signed by three individuals, one of whom was not licensed to collect in Minnesota.
A District Court judge ruled that a least sophisticated consumer would not have been misled by the use of Credit Collections Bureau, CCB, or “professional debt collectors.” The Appeals Court agreed.
We agree with Credico that CCB is a commonsense abbreviation of Credit Collections Bureau, Credico’s other registered name and the name it used in its letter to Klein, not a different company. And we agree that “PROFESSIONAL DEBT COLLECTORS” clearly describes what Credit Collections Bureau is. Further, Credico’s letter provided Klein with a correct registered name, its phone number, its website, the balance due, and a name and phone number for her assigned collector.
Regarding the signature at the bottom of the letter, both the District and Appeals courts ruled that because the other two individuals who signed the letter were licensed to collect in Minnesota and because the company itself was licensed, that the other signature was not an unfair or unconscionable attempt to collect on a debt.