Judge Grants MTD in FDCPA Case Over Dispute Sent to Creditor, Not Collector

A District Court judge in Michigan has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by contacting the plaintiff after she had disputed the debt in question with the original creditor and for making a “hard inquiry” on her credit report.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Bostic v. Michael Andrews & Associates can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff defaulted on an auto loan, leaving a deficiency balance. The creditor sent the plaintiff a letter, advising her of her rights under the FDCPA. After sending the letter, the creditor placed the account with the defendant. Shortly after receiving the letter, the plaintiff responded to the creditor, requesting validation of the debt and disputing it. Whether that dispute was sent to the defendant was not certain.

The defendant attempted to collect on the debt by calling the plaintiff. During one of the calls, the plaintiff informed the defendant that she had disputed the debt with the creditor. The defendant continued to make calls attempting to collect on the debt, and subsequently accessed the plaintiff’s credit report via a “hard” inquiry, which negatively impacted her credit score.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated Sections 1692g(b), 1692d, and 1692f of the FDCPA.

Judge Paul D. Borman of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, determined that the plaintiff’s claim about receiving “repeated” phone calls were too conclusory or vague because she did not specify how many calls she received in a specific time frame. Calls “are not harassing merely because they are unwelcome,” Judge Borman wrote, citing precedent in granting the motion to dismiss on the 1692d claim.

While she did indicate the substance of one call — where she told a representative of the defendant that she had disputed the debt — the plaintiff never filed the dispute with the defendant in writing, Judge Borman noted.

Similarly, there is nothing in the FDCPA or the Fair Credit Reporting Act that prohibits collectors from making hard inquiries into an individual’s credit.

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