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 allegedly not specific enough when providing a deadline to accept a settlement offer in a collection letter.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Solovyova v. United Collection Bureau, Inc., can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received a letter from the defendant that was an attempt to collect on an unpaid retail credit card debt. The letter offered to settlement options — one was a lump sum payment and the other a payment plan that settled the debt in six months. The letter made the offers like this:
Option #1 A lump sum payment of $3,201.32 to settle the account, due by 06-22-2018.
Option #2 A settlement of $3,318.44 in six payments, the first payment of $553.09 due by the 22nd of this month and five additional payments of $553.07 due by the 22nd of each month.
Upon the timely receipt of the entire agreed upon settlement amount and clearance of funds this account will be settled and United Collection Bureau, Inc. will report the settlement to your creditor.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Section 1692e(10) of the FDCPA because the phrase “due by 06-22-2018” was open to more than one interpretation, because it was not clear whether the payment needed to be mailed by that date or received by that date.
But even the least sophisticated consumer is expected to read the whole letter, pointed out Judge Raymond Dearie of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York. And the second option clearly states that the first payment is due by the 22nd of the month. As well, the letter clearly references the “timely receipt” of the “settlement amount” which means the money needs to be received by the date and not mailed by it, Judge Dearie noted.