Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Ambiguous Deadline in Letter

A District Court judge in New York has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it was not specific enough in a collection letter with respect to the deadline for receiving a payment.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Perdomo v. Firstsource Advantage can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant, which included the following passage:

If you pay $273.56 by 08-24-18, we will consider your account settled and collection efforts will stop on the remaining balance.

Upon receipt and clearance of your payment, we will notify the creditor listed above so they can update their records accordingly.

Kindly note that we have the right to treat any missed, late, or returned payment as a cancellation of the agreement.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging it was not specific enough whether the payment had to be sent by the date in the letter or if it had to be received by the date in the letter. She said the letter violated Section 1692e(10) of the FDCPA because it was open to more than one possible interpretation, and could be misunderstood by a least sophisticated consumer.

But Judge Allyne Ross of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled that even if the language in the letter was confusing, it did not rise to the level of being material.

“To the extent the payment deadline provided in the letter is ambiguous, plaintiff has not pointed to any reason why this ambiguity would be material,” Judge Ross wrote. “An ambiguity that, in the worst-case scenario, would lead a consumer to mail her payment a few days earlier than necessary does not rise to the level of a materially misleading statement. Because there is no material misrepresentation at issue in this case, plaintiff has failed to state a claim under the FDCPA.”

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