A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by not properly identifying the current creditor in a collection letter.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Ocampo v. Client Services, Inc., can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff applied for, and received, a Walmart-branded credit card. When she was unable to pay the bill, the debt was placed with the defendant, which sent a letter to the plaintiff. The letter referenced the creditor only once, and as “Synchrony Bank Walmart MC.” The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692e and 1692g of the FDCPA because it did not appropriately identify the current creditor.
Beneath the one reference to the creditor was the plaintiff’s account number and the balance due, which was more than enough for the plaintiff to identify the source of the debt, ruled Judge Brian Cogan of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
“What possible interpretation of the name, account number, and amount due could plaintiff have besides that which was clearly intended?” Judge Cogan wrote. “This is her Walmart credit card; it simply cannot be anything else. Plaintiff offers no alternative construction. If she doesn’t know that it is her Walmart credit card that is being collected, her sophistication level is below that of the least sophisticated consumer.”
The judge then takes the plaintiff to task for filing what he calls a “lawyer case,” in which “a defect of which only a sophisticated lawyer, not the least sophisticated consumer, would conceive.”
“We cannot lose sight of the consequences of these creative exercises — the cost of litigation in the collection industry logically must increase the cost of credit, especially to the least sophisticated consumer, as at least some of those costs will be passed on.”