Another day, another court decision that discusses interest disclosures in collection letters. This time, we have a decision out of the Western District of Wisconsin.
In Salvatore v. Americollect, Inc., No. 19-cv-447 (W.D. Wisc. Feb. 5, 2020), the consumer alleged that a collection letter sent by Americollect did not state the amount due clearly enough for an unsophisticated consumer to understand. The letter was sent in regards to the consumer's past-due medical debt and, in addition to listing the balance, stated that the amount owed is as of the date of the letter but future interest may accrue.
The exact statement in the letter said that "[f]uture interest of 5% per year may be added to the account if the amount due is not paid." The consumer's main argument was that the letter doesn't state how interest would be accrued or what would happen if she paid the amount stated in the letter after interest accrued.
The court granted Americollect's motion to dismiss, finding that the letter would not confuse an unsophisticated consumer. The court, instead, went back to the different appellate court cases that discuss this issue, such as Taylor from the Second Circuit. The court found that the appellate court decisions, while they provide a safe-harbor language, don't require the exact language to be used. With that, said that the consumer identified nothing in the FDCPA that requires the information sought by the consumer to be provided.
The court states:
The debt-collection letter that Americollect sent to Salvatore told her the precise amount that she owed as of the date of the letter and said that future interest might accrue if she did not pay her debt. This is all that § 1692g(a)(1) requires. Even if the information that Salvatore contends that the letter lacked would have been helpful, its absence does not give rise to a cause of action under the FDCPA.
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