Judge Denies MSJ in FDCPA Case Over Use of Alternate Name

A District Court judge in New Jersey has denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment after it was accused of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by using a different company name in voicemail messages left with individuals.

A copy of the ruling in Levins v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group can be accessed by clicking here.

The case had previously been dismissed by a District Court judge only to be revived by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled back in 2018 that the plaintiff had stated a plausible claim under Section 1692(e)(14) of the FDCPA, which prohibits the use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization in attempting to collect on a debt.

After being remanded back to the District Court, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the name it used to collect on the debt — “ARS” — is a name under which it usually transacts business and is a commonly used acronym of its registered alternate name, “ARS Account Resolution Services.”

However, prior to using the name ARS in voicemails and a collection letter, the defendant attempted to collect on the debt using the Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group name, which would have confused a least sophisticated consumer. The defendant did claim it once sent a letter to the plaintiff identifying itself as as “Account Resolution Services, a division of HRRG, LLC,” and uses “ARS” as a short-form of “ARS Account Resolution Services” throughout, but the plaintiff claimed never to have seen that letter.

“While Plaintiffs’ admit that every voicemail message alleged in their Amended Complaint identified the caller as ‘ARS,’ this admission is obviously far less sweeping than HRRG makes it out to be,” wrote Judge Robert Kugler of the District Court for the District of New Jersey — Camden Vicinage, in denying the summary judgment motion.

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