A District Court judge in Arizona has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case after it was sued because the plaintiff informed the defendant that she was no longer disputing the debt, and the steps taken by the defendant did not lead to the dispute being removed from the plaintiff’s credit report.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Rahier v. Thunderbird Collection Specialists can be accessed by clicking here.
The defendant was attempting to collect on a debt from the plaintiff. The plaintiff disputed the debt, and the defendant notified the credit reporting agencies of the dispute. Through her attorney, the plaintiff then sent a letter to the defendant saying the debt was no longer being disputed and requesting that the dispute remark be removed from the tradeline.
The defendant removed the dispute designation from the account in its system and left the compliance condition code blank. The revised information was submitted to the credit reporting agencies. The plaintiff checked her credit report and saw that the debt was still being marked as disputed and filed suit, accusing the defendant of violating Section 1692e of the FDCPA. The defendant should have marked the account with an “XR” condition code, rather than just leaving it blank, the plaintiff claimed, relying on the Credit Reporting Resource Guide for this assessment.
Ultimately, the plaintiff’s claim failed because she was unable to prove that the defendant falsely reported information about the debt to the credit reporting agency, noted Judge Jennifer G. Zipps of the District Court for the District of Arizona. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the Credit Reporting Resource Guide is not admissible or applicable in resolving this dispute, Judge Zipps wrote. Complying with industry guidelines is not sufficient to prove an alleged violation of the FDCPA and the plaintiff failed to prove her claim the the CRRG “sets forth the credit report industry standards and procedures,” ruled Judge Zipps. “The evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to Rahier, demonstrates only that: TCS received Rahier’s letter and took steps to remove the ‘dispute’ designation from the field in the software program which identifies debts that are being disputed. TCS’s collection notes corroborate this and indicate that TCS removed the disputed remark. TCS then reported its information to TransUnion. The record does not contain evidence from TransUnion. There is no evidence that TCS’s revisions were not received by TransUnion and no admissible evidence that TCS’s manner of revising its data was ineffective. The fact that TransUnion continued to report the Debt as disputed does not, by itself, support the inference that TCS failed to accurately report to TransUnion to the exclusion of other possible explanations for TransUnion’s reporting.”