The shockwaves are still reverberating through the accounts receivable management industry following yesterday’s ruling in Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc., and the question on many minds is, how bad is this going to get?
That question is being asked on a number of levels. The obvious level is — will consumers and their attorneys rush to sue every other agency that uses a vendor to send their collection letters? Companies inside the Eleventh Circuit, which includes Florida, Georgia, and Alabama are likely to be the first wave of defendants, but who doesn’t expect that collection agencies across the country will face similar lawsuits? Legal experts are expecting the defendant in the Hunstein case to file an en banc request to have the entire Eleventh Circuit re-hear the case in the hopes of obtaining a better result, but that could take months, if not longer. It could be open season on collectors in the meantime.
The next level on which that question is being asked is, what other areas of the collections business will face these lawsuits? Letter vendors are not the only category of service providers that receive customer information from collection agencies. I heard from a number of different vendors yesterday wondering how this ruling was going to affect their businesses and whether collection agencies were going to stop using their products and services until this situation gets straightened out.
Unfortunately, there are far more questions than answers at this stage. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to sign up for a free webinar on Friday, April 23 at 1pm ET to hear from Rozanne Andersen, John Bedard, and Manny Newburger about the impact of this ruling and their recommendations for how to move forward. Please note that this webinar is limited to the first 500 people who sign up.