Consumer Loses on Validation Letter Claim

While I always try to write to you about the success stories of consumers Past _due _imgthat stood up
for their rights, I also have to give the bad news on
occasion.  Thus, today’s blog is about a recent decision that
came out badly for the consumer.   In Zememckis v. Global
Credit & Collection Corp. on appeal, the Seventh Circuit
dismissed the consumer’s claims stating she failed to state a valid
claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”). 

The basic facts of the case show that in March of 2010 Zemeckis
owed money to Capital One Bank who in turn hired
Global Credit & Collection Corp.
(“Global”) to collect the
debt on its behalf.  In its collection attempts Global sent
Zemeckis an initial
collection letter
with notice of her right to request
validation of the debt.  Zemeckis argued that the language
used in the letter and repeated threats of legal action against her
overshadowed the language required under
the statute
informing her that she had thirty days to dispute
the validity of the debt and request validation.  The letter
“urge[d] [her] to take action now,” and to “[c]all [Global’s]
office today….”  The letter also stressed Capital One Bank’s
right to file suit against Zemeckis, warning that “[her] account
now meets … [the] guidelines for legal action” and that “Capital
One Bank (USA), N.A. may be forced to take legal action.” 
With the validation notice written on the back side of the letter,
Zemeckis argued that Global’s letter masked her right to seek
validation as required by the FDCPA.

Zemeckis argued Global violated Section1692g of the FDCPA by
using threatening language in the letter which overshadowed her right
to seek validation
.  The district court disagreed and
dismissed her claim.  Zemeckis appealed the district court’s
ruling to the Seventh Circuit but had the same result. 
Global’s initial collection letter did not violate the FDCPA and
Zemeckis’ case was dismissed. 

Under
Section 1692g
, a debt collector’s initial letter to a debtor
must contain:
(1) the amount of the debt; (2) the name of the creditor to whom
the debt is owed; (3) a statement that unless the consumer, within
thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of
the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be
valid by the debt collector; (4) a statement that if the consumer
notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period
that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt
collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a
judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or
judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and
(5) a statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within
the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer
with the name and address of the original creditor, if different
from the current creditor.  15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a). 
Zemeckis argued that under her interpretation of the statute the
letter was misleading, however on appeal the Seventh Circuit could
not agree.  In conclusion, the Court stated that while it by
no means wishes to applaud Global’s initial collection letter, it
does not feel that its letter rose to a level of violation of the
statute.

If you are having issues with debt collection and need
assistance contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review