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DISCLAIMER: This article is based on a complaint. The defendant has not responded to the complaint to present its side of the case. The claims mentioned are accusations and should be considered as such until and unless proven otherwise.
Anytime a complaint starts with the sentence “… is a disabled senior citizen and monolingual Spanish-speaker who lives on a fixed income,” you can bet what follows is likely not to be good. A collection law firm is being sued for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act after the plaintiff was sued for $10,000 worth of back rent for an apartment that she never lived in or signed a lease for. The defendant is accused of continuing to pursue a collection lawsuit after the plaintiff provided copies of her signature and identification which did not match those that were used to secure the lease.
A copy of the complaint, filed in the District Court for the Southern District of New York, can be accessed using case number 23-cv-01065 or by clicking here.
The plaintiff was served with a summons and complaint alleging that she had breached a lease agreement. The plaintiff’s niece read her the complaint, and then the niece contacted the defendant, which sent a copy of the tenant application. The application included a copy of a driver’s license, a W-9 form, a bank statement, and a tax return. The signature on the license did not match the signature on the W-9 or the application, according to the complaint.
The niece replied back to the defendant with a copy of her aunt’s non-driver’s identification, to show the signatures were different. The defendant asked for documentation showing where the plaintiff lived during the period in question and the niece provided a copy of her aunt’s lease, a utility bill, and other paperwork that listed the plaintiff’s actual address.
The plaintiff made two trips to New York Civil Court, and even after a judge noted that the signatures did not match, the plaintiff did not discontinue the case, according to the complaint.
The plaintiff retained a legal aid service to represent her, which helped the plaintiff filed an Identity Theft affidavit, which the legal aid service sent to the defendant with the same information that the niece had provided.
A week later, the defendant discontinued its suit against the plaintiff.
The plaintiff filed suit, accusing the defendant of violating Sections 1692d, 1692e(2), 1692e(3), 1692e(5), 1692e(10), 1692f, 1692e(11), and 1692g of the FDCPA.