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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.
Collectors are often faced with the dilemma of laws and regulations that contradict each other. A state may enact a law that has a provision which conflicts with what they need to do under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, for example. A collector finds itself the subject of a FDCPA class-action lawsuit because it included a disclosure related to collection regulations in Massachusetts that the complaint alleges actually violates the FDCPA.
A copy of the complaint, filed in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts, can be accessed using case number 23-cv-10824 or by clicking here.
Back in March 2022, the plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. The letter included the following disclosure:
IF YOU LIVE IN MASSACHUSETTS, THIS APPLIES TO YOU: NOTICE OF IMPORTANT RIGHTS: You have the right to make a written or oral request that telephone calls regarding your debt not be made to you at your place of employment. Any such oral request will be valid for only ten (10) days unless you provide written confirmation of the request postmarked or delivered within seven (7) days of such request. You may terminate this request by writing [the defendant].
The problem, according to the complaint, is that the FDCPA prohibits collectors from contacting consumers “at their place of employment if the collector knows or has reason to know the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.” There is no requirement that collectors receive a follow-up request in the mail within 10 days — they have to honor the request regardless of when or how it was made.
For the plaintiff, this means the disclosure in question violated Sections 1692e(5) and 1692e(10) of the FDCPA because Section 1692c(a)(1) prohibits the communications. The disclosure, according to the complaint, shifts “the burden on to the consumer to incur costs for postage to completely process such requests, when the FDCPA imposes no such burden.”
The complaint seeks to include anyone who received a communication with a similar disclosure.