Statement that Debt Collector Would Call Overshadows 1692g Notice

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A recent case from a Wisconsin district court serves as a reminder that the best approach to a 1692g notice is that it stands alone.  In Maniaci v. The Receivable Management Services Corp., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109087 (E.D. Wisc. June 29, 2018), the agency’s 1692g notice included a statement that

If you have not yet been contacted by an RMS representative, you will be receiving a call to bring this matter to a resolution.  Should you receive this letter after a discussion with our representative, we thank you for your cooperation.

Maniaci at *2. 

In determining the collection agency’s motion to dismiss, the court considered whether the above statement overshadowed the 1692g notice, leading the unsophisticated consumer to believe he could wait until he received a call to dispute the debt. 

The agency contended that the statement did not overshadow the remainder of the notice because it “clearly and unequivocally directs the consumer to provide the dispute in writing.”  Id. at * 5.  The court, however, disagreed.  In doing so, the court made two points.  First, the court concluded that a statement that the debt collector would be calling might lead the unsophisticated consumer to conclude that he would be receiving the call within the thirty-day debt validation window, at which time he could “bring this matter to a resolution” by disputing the debt.  Second, the court found the debt collector’s contention that it did not make calls within the thirty-day validation troubling because it presented the possibility that consumers would forfeit their rights under §1692g. 

Despite denying the motion to dismiss, however, the court was quick to point out that the threshold for motions to dismiss is high because “dismissal is only appropriate in cases involving statements that plainly, on their face, are not misleading or deceptive.”

The key take away from this, of course, is that 1692g notices are best when they contain no extraneous language which might obscure the notice.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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