John K. Rossman is a shareholder and Chair of the Creditors' Remedies Practice Group at Moss & Barnett, P.A. Mr. Rossman is a nationally acclaimed authority on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the labyrinth of laws that impact the debt industry. He is a counselor and advisor to national and international companies and noted for his intelligent, creative and successful representation of collection agencies, debt buyers, creditors and fellow attorneys in cases across the country. Read More
Network with John Rossmanon LinkedIn
Debt collection letters continue to 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 rejected a consumer’s FDCPA claims brought in a putative class action and premised on language included in a collection letter. What does this bode for the industry?
The Supreme Court decision in Spokeo v. Robins was expected to provide clarity to debt industry defendants facing FDCPA and related consumer lawsuits where the Plaintiffs’ allege no actual harm. Unfortunately, the case did little to specify exactly what type of “concrete” harm a consumer must allege to pursue a claim, but did provide some excellent language that can be used to refute consumer lawsuits where no actual harm is or could be alleged.
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.
The latest iteration of this darned-if-you-do-darned-if-you-don’t conundrum for debt collectors involves the disclosure of the tax consequences to a consumer for settling a collection account for less than the full balance.
Recently, a small number of entities began issuing thousands of form requests for validation to collection agencies on behalf of consumers in an apparent attempt to force debt collectors to close accounts rather than provide validation. Questions have arisen as to how debt collectors should respond to the massive volume of form requests for validation and whether these form requests raise issues of consumer protection that should be reviewed by regulators.
In this episode of the Debt Collection Drill podcast, attorneys John Rossman and Mike Poncin identify challenges arising from industry regulators and from the Courts while providing specific guidance on how best to avoid difficulties. Specifically: Regulators and Litigation.
Regulators from the CFPB and the FTC encourage the debt industry to look at past enforcement actions and other publications to determine what issues are most important to those agencies. A review of the recent enforcement actions by the CFPB and FTC, as well as other publications, reveal three distinct trends: actions involving unfair treatment of service members; the failure of debt collectors to adequately distinguish and investigate FDCPA and FCRA disputes; and, racial bias in debt collection efforts.
Specifically, issues arise regarding the type of consent that a consumer must give to authorize recurring payments from a checking account or debit card. Further, the types of disclosures that must be provided by a debt collector accepting such payments are buried in the regulations. This podcast from John Rossman and Mike Poncin puts the issue into perspective.
In the latest episode of the Debt Collection Drill, attorneys John Rossman and Mike Poncin break down the law changes in New York, Illinois, and Maine, and provide practical guidance for compliance and avoiding pitfalls.
Given the data that must be weighed by a creditor or debt collector in determining where a consumer resides – the area code of the number called, the zip code of the residence of record, any statements by the consumer about his or her place of residence – it is certain that the Discover Consent Order will be the start of yet another flood of consumer lawsuits against the collection industry regarding the calling of consumer cell phones.