Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Different Internal Account Numbers in Collection Letters

A District Court judge in Indiana has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the internal account numbers it referenced in two collection letters — seeking to collect the same debt owed to the same creditor — were different.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Scott v. Nationwide Credit can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received two collection letters from the defendant — one sent n June 2019 and the other sent four months later. Both letters sought to collect $1,386.18 that was owed to American Express and both referenced the plaintiff’s account number with American Express ending in 81003. One letter referenced and internal account number ending in 0922 and the other reference an internal account number ending in 5249.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letters violated Section 1692d, 1692e, and 1692f of the FDCPA because they attempted to mislead him by trying to collect twice the amount owed on the original debt.

But Judge James Sweeney II of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, was having none of the plaintiff’s argument.

Sending two letters with different internal account numbers “is in no way even arguably similar to the types of conduct specifically prohibited by” Section 1692d of the FDCPA, Judge Sweeney wrote, dismissing that count of the complaint.

Judge Sweeney also ruled that the different account numbers were not misleading or deceptive under Section 1692e, either. “The two collection letters identified the same original creditor account and same balance owed,” Judge Sweeney wrote. “The two letters clearly identified the same debt and sought to collect the same debt. Scott’s view that the letters attempted to collect twice on the amount owed on the original debt is unrealistic and can be disregarded.”

As for the 1692f count, the allegations that the letters were an attempt to engage in unfair or unconscionable conduct were just as futile.

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