Bad Envelope = FDCPA Violation

Douglass v Convergent Outsourcing
Third Circuit Court of Appeals

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals on August 28, 2014 issued a precedential opinion in the case of Douglass v Convergent Outsourcing f/k/a ER Solutions, Inc. Douglass filed an action against Convergent Outsourcing for sending a collection letter using a window envelope that exposed Mr. Douglass’s name and address (which is not a violation) and exposed the Convergent account number and the amount alleged owed on the collection claim. The envelope also exposed a QR code that when scanned by a smart phone would reveal the same information.

So, why is this a problem? The court found it to be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act 15 USC 1692f(8). 1692f(8) makes it a violation for a debt collector to use “any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by use of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business”. The court found that by revealing the account number and the amount of the debt it displayed core information to the public information capable of identifying Douglass as a debtor.

The court also held that the FDCPA is a remedial statute and is to be broadly construed.

As a consumer, you should always save all collection letters and their envelopes. You should have those reviewed by an attorney experienced in handling FDCPA cases. We at Artim Law would be glad to review any letters to see if your rights have been violated.

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