The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided for the debtor in a class action involving the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The suit, Tourgeman v. Collins Financial Services, et al, revolved around listing the wrong creditor on debt collection letters and sending these letters to the wrong address.
Tourgeman financed a Dell computer through Dell Financial Services. He was living in Mexico at the time of the sale but had the computer shipped to his parent’s home in California. Tourgeman defaulted on payments and the debt was eventually sold to Collins Financial Services. After his default, collections letters were sent to Tourgeman at his parent’s California address. He never received these letters because he was living in Mexico and not at his parent’s home. These letters also mistakenly identified the original creditor as American Investment Bank, N.A. instead of Dell Financial Services. The wrong creditor was also listed on the paperwork used to initiate a collections lawsuit against Tourgeman.
Tourgeman alleged that the misidentification of the original creditor was fatal to the lawsuit because it was “false, deceptive or misleading” according to the FDCPA. Collins Financial argued that, because there was a description of the debt on two of the letters, the mistake was not as important to the case as Tourgeman alleged. The District court agreed with them and granted summary judgment.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did not feel the same way. The court decided that the mistaken name was “materially misleading”. They remanded the case back down to the District Court for decision on other issues.
Debt collectors are not allowed to collect a debt by any means available to them.The FDCPA and the rules of civil procedure require that debt collectors follow certain rules when attempting to collect a debt and notifying you of legal action against you. It is important to obtain the assistance of counsel if you feel that your rights are being violated in connection with a debt collection issue. Contact Fitzgerald Campbell at (844) 431-3851 for a free consultation.