A District Court judge has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by sending a letter to the plaintiff after she had contacted the original creditors and revoked the right to be contacted.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Dahl v. Kohn Law Firm S.C. can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff sent separate letters to two creditors. The letters included the following passage:
Don’t call me anymore at any number. Don’t send me any letters. Don’t email me. You or your company may not communicate with me at all. Stop all communication with me now for the account noted above. If you had my permission to call or write me, you don’t anymore. Stop Buggin me.
I don’t owe you nothin’ — especially for the account above.
If you are taking money from my bank account or credit card, that must stop now to[o].
One of the creditors placed the account with the defendant, which sent the plaintiff two letters. The second letter included this statement:
This is to notify you that this firm was retained to represent Discover Bank to collect its claim against you for the balance owing on your Discover Card account. Discover has advised us that you have requested no further communications regarding this matter.
The letter goes on to say that federal law requires the defendant to provide information about how the plaintiff could dispute the debt.
In granting the motion to dismiss, Judge William Conley of the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin noted that a debt collector is required to stop communicating with an individual only when the individual revokes consent directly to the collector, under Section 1692c(c) of the FDCPA.
“Whether as a matter of policy it would make more sense to permit knowledge of a prior written notice to trigger these protections is open to debate,” Judge Conley wrote. “In drafting § 1692c(c), however, Congress appears to have deliberately chose not to prohibit debt collectors from communicating with consumers based on knowledge alone of the consumer’s desire for the cessation of communications or refusal to pay. Thus, it is for Congress, not the court to address such a change.”
Based on the plaintiff’s complaint, even if the conditions under Section 1692c(c) were not met, the letter would not have violated the FDCPA because, Section 1692c(c) contains three exceptions that allow for permissible communications following the invocation of a cease communication protection:
- to advise the consumer that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated;
- to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor; or
- where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy.
“In addition to identifying the creditor, debtor and balance owed, as well as advising plaintiff of defendant’s representation of the creditor, both of defendant’s letters notified her that: she had thirty days to dispute the validity of the debt or defendant would assume it valid; if she disputed the debt, defendant would verify it; and if verified, defendant would provide her with the verification,” Judge Conley wrote. “Each of these letters, therefore, appear to at least satisfy exceptions (2) and (3) under § 1692g(a).”