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Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Different Language in Dispute Notice

A District Court judge in North Carolina has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by not quoting the statutory dispute notice language in a collection letter.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Cavin v. Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant in relation to an unpaid retail credit card debt. In the letter, the defendant included the following statement:

We assume this to be a valid debt unless you contact us within 30 days of your receipt of this letter to dispute all or any part of the balance indicated. If you notify us in writing of any dispute with regard to this debt within 30 days of receiving this letter, we will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against you, if any, and mail it to you. Upon your written request within 30 days following your receipt of this letter, we will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor. This communication is from a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

At issue are the first eight words of that statement — We assume this to be a valid debt. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the assumption that the debt is valid was misleading and overshadowed her 30-day window to dispute the debt violated Sections 1692g and 1692e(10) of the FDCPA.

But because the subsequent sentences repeatedly mention the 30-day window to dispute the debt, the judge in this case ruled that a least sophisticated consumer would not be misled by the use of the present tense in the first statement.

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