Judge Grants MSJ For Defense Over Pay-For-Delete Request From Plaintiff

Even though he had been told otherwise, writing a note in the memo line of a check that a debt was being paid in exchange for deletion of a tradeline does not work, according to a District Court judge in New Jersey who granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Rosko v. Rushmore Service Center can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff fell behind on his credit card payments and the account was placed with the defendant for collection. The plaintiff contacted the defendant and asked it to delete the tradeline that had been furnished to the credit reporting agency, but was told that doing so would violate the creditor’s policies. Later that same day, the plaintiff called the defendant again and asked about deleting the tradeline. This time, he was told that the defendant did not report debts to credit reporting agencies and could not delete it. The plaintiff nonetheless scheduled a debit card payment to covered the past due amount. But before the transaction was processed, the plaintiff called back, canceled the debit card payment and said he would mail in a check, which he did. But in the memo line, the plaintiff wrote “pay for deletion of entire tradeline.” The defendant, following its procedures, struck out that line when it received the check, wrote the account number on it instead, and deposited it.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated Section 1692e of the FDCPA by not honoring the note when it cashed his check.

After first ruling that the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant engaged in prohibited debt collection activity by cashing a check that the plaintiff willingly sent the defendant “stretches the statutory language beyond reason,” Judge Susan Wigenton of the District Court for the District of New Jersey then went on to rule that the plaintiff’s belief that his tradeline would be deleted just because he wrote it on the check “was not reasonable.” The defendant had already communicated to the plaintiff that it would not be able to honor such a request, so the defendant did not engage in false or deceptive practices by not doing what it said it could not, Judge Wigenton ruled.

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