A District Court judge has granted a defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings after it was sued by a brother and sister for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by discussing the sister’s debt with the brother, but only after the brother used the sister’s personal information — the last four digits of her Social Security number — to verify her identity during a collection call.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Gabriel Brown and Ivan Brown v. CACH and Unifin can be accessed by clicking here.
Gabriel Brown had previously settled with Unifin and this ruling was based on Unifin’s motion for a judgment on the pleadings for its involvement in the suit.
Ivan returned a call that had been placed by a representative of Unifin who was looking for Gabriel. The representative asked if he was speaking with “Mr. Brown” and Ivan answered in the affirmative. The representative then asked for confirmation of the last four digits of Gabriel Brown’s Social Security number, which Ivan provided. The representative and Ivan then had a conversation about the debt, during which Ivan alleges that some of the statement that were made were false and actionable. The defendant argued that Ivan lacked standing to sue related to its attempt to collect on his sister’s debt.
Looking at legal precedents which have held that “consumers and those who have a special relationship with the consumer” or those “who stand in the consumer’s shoes” can have standing to sue, Judge Robert Dow of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois essentially determines that such individuals have standing because it is “predicated on some indication-formal or informal-of the plaintiff’s authority to act on behalf of the consumer/debtor in regard to the communications at issue.” In this case, Ivan was an imposter, posing as his sister “and had no right to intrude on his sister’s business,” Judge Dow wrote. “Indeed, any suggestion that Ivan had Gabriel’s permission or authorization to stand in her shoes is belied by the allegations of the complaint itself and Ivan’s response brief — in particular, Ivan’s contention that his actions embarrassed his sister and resulted in a souring of their relationship.”