New Collection Letter Lawsuits in California and New York: What Your Agency Needs to Know Now.

Collection letters are the bane of our industry.  Letters are expensive to send and – despite what a certain television pundit claims – studies prove that few consumers actually read collection letters.   The CFPB, the FCC and other regulators pay little more than lip service to the urgent requests from consumer advocates to allow collectors communicate with consumers electronically, with States such as New York enacting Byzantine and unworkable rules to “allow” collectors to communicate with consumers via email.  It is anticipated that the CFPB, in its upcoming notice of proposed debt collection communication rules, will adopt standards for electronic communications similar to the convoluted rules found in New York.  Ultimately it is consumers that are harmed by these rules that disregard modern electronic communications in favor of antiquated collection letters.  Further, consumer attorneys scrutinize collection letters, measuring the font size of disclosures and injecting tortured interpretations of plain language to find possible lawsuits (and potential paydays) against collection agencies diligently seeking to comply with the law.

In the latest episode of the Debt Collection Drill podcast, Moss & Barnett attorneys John Rossman (http://www.lawmoss.com/john-rossman/) and Mike Poncin (http://www.lawmoss.com/michael-s-poncin/) discuss a new wave of lawsuits against debt collectors in California, which focus on the font size of certain disclosures, and New York, which centers on a misreading of Second Circuit case law.

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Three Overlooked Traps for First Party/Early Out Servicers

First party and early-out servicing provides an enhanced customer service experience and greater responsiveness for consumers.  These qualities make first party and early-out servicing beneficial for creditors as well as consumers.  However, as the prevalence of this type of servicing increases, consumer attorneys and regulators seek to find ways to apply traditional debt collection laws and statutes to first party and early-out servicing.

In the latest episode of the Debt Collection Drill, Moss & Barnett attorneys John Rossman http://www.lawmoss.com/john-rossman/, Mike Poncin http://www.lawmoss.com/michael-s-poncin/ and Dave Cherner http://www.lawmoss.com/david-d-cherner/ discuss risks for first party and early out servicing arising from the FTC DeMayo Opinion, discuss specific State licensing and disclosure requirements (24 States and jurisdictions may require early-out servicers to obtain a collection agency license) and also address possible CFPB rulemaking to modify the definition of default, as determined by meetings that Mr. Rossman and Mr. Cherner have attended with the CFPB through the Consumer Relations Consortium http://www.crconsortium.org/

What Collectors Really Need to Know About the CFPB’s Proposed Rules

On July 28, 2016, the CFPB released an outline of its proposed rules regarding debt collection.  The outline is the next step in the first ever rulemaking in the nearly 40 year history of the FDCPA.  Attorneys John Rossman and Mike Poncin examine some of the highlights of the CFPB rulemaking outline in the latest episode of the Debt Collection Drill podcast. 

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FDCPA Victory in Class Action Letter Case:What It Means for the Industry

Debt collection letters continue provide an expansive target for FDCPA and related lawsuits due to the panoply of Federal and State disclosure requirements for such letters. Further, the Court cases interpreting these requirements are in constant flux and new decisions sometimes contradict previous rulings. In a rare win for the collection industry, a recent case out of the Eastern District of New York -In Re Krieger- rejected a consumer’s FDCPA claims brought in a putative class action and premised on language included in a collection letter.

In the latest episode of the Debt Collection Drill podcast, attorneys John Rossman and Mike Poncin discuss the Krieger decision and provide specific collection letter recommendations for debt collectors, emphasizing the need for collection letters to be reviewed by an independent attorney on an annual basis.

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Appellate Courts Hold Typical Collection Letters Violate FDCPA

Debt collectors and consumer advocates agree that collection letters do little (if anything) to truly inform consumers about their indebtedness. Very few consumers actually read collection letters. Further, the verbiage that debt collectors are required by law to include in each collection letter is so voluminous, confusing and often contradictory, any truly meaningful information is often obscured by the required verbiage.

The requirements for what debt collectors are required to provide in “snail mail” notices to consumers arises from a patchwork of Federal, State and local laws — as well as case law that often varies by jurisdiction — and many of the requirements are antiquated, dating back to the 1970s. Unfortunately, these dated and contradictory collection letter requirements continue to result in lawsuits and adverse Court decisions against debt collectors.

In the most recent episode of the Debt Collection Drill audio blog, attorneys John Rossman and Mike Poncin examine two recent cases decided by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, both of which found that typical collection letters violated the FDCPA. Below are links to those cases:

Janetos V Fulton Friedman & Gullace LLP

Avila V. Riexinger & Assoc LLP

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