On deck: Two sad FDCPA cases, robocalling & call-blocking commentary from the FCC, and CFPB consent orders ranked

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FDCPA Math

Gordon & Wong Law Group (G&W) could have settled a questionable FDCPA suit for $4,000. But they felt they did nothing wrong and opted to defend themselves in court. They did and won!

Total court fees: $41,062.50

Sanction award: $29,507.00

The bill for an unambiguous FDCPA case win: $11,555.50

The deets

G&W arranged a settlement with the plaintiff-to-be and subsequently informed the Sacramento County sheriff’s office to terminate garnishment immediately. But, the sheriff’s office mistakenly garnished the plaintiff’s wages again. G&W voided the check right away and again instructed the sheriff’s office to stop garnishment.  To no avail. The plaintiff sued several days later.

The court granted summary judgment to G&W and ordered the plaintiff to pay court fees. Nevertheless, the plaintiff brought a motion for reconsideration three days later, a motion dismissed quickly, in part, for reliance on “reckless misstatements.”  Both plaintiff and defendant lost on this one, however, as the court only imposed additional sanctions of $500, arguing that this amount was deterrent aplenty.

The case: Shepard-Hall v. Gordon and Wong Law Group PC (Case No 2:16-cv-1361, U.S.D.C., Eastern District of California)


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A Daily Planner Might Have Helped

Last week, a federal court in Missouri ruled that a letter which contained a “reply-by” date that was outside the 30-day validation notice window was not a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violation.

The deets

Midland Credit Management, Inc. (MCM) sent the plaintiff a collection letter with a stated “reply-by” deadline clearly outside the 30-day validation notice window. The Plaintiff sued, arguing that the inclusion of a “reply-by” deadline overshadowed and was inconsistent with her validation rights and the notice deadline so therefore, it constituted a false and misleading representation. 

The judge said: nope. Because the “reply-by” date comes after the expiration of the validation notice period and because the letter does not require the Plaintiff to pay the debt prior to that expiration, those validation rights were doing just fine, thanks.

The case: Koller v. Midland Credit Management, Inc. (Case No. 4:17-cv-00430, U.S.D.C., Western District of Missouri, Western Division) 


Which CFPB Consent Order Should Concern You Most?

Well, that depends on what you do. When it comes to consent orders, there is no one-size-fits-all. The CFPB has been all about specificity, explains Attorney and Compliance Professionals Forum Editorial Review Board member John Bedard.

"The CFPB has been surgical about consent orders – there is not one Grand Poobah of them all," he adds. "Instead, consent orders are comprised of a finely threaded, intricate, patchwork of legal material making up a larger 'regulatory quilt' designed to overlay the industry – a legal mosaic which creates a bigger picture of how government expects the marketplace to function."

Here, according to Bedard, are the CPFB orders you should be most concerned about:

For debt buyers - Encore Capital Group, Inc. LLP (2015-CFPB-0022) and Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (2015-CFPB-0023)

For attorneys - Pressler & Pressler NA (2016-CFPB-0009)

For creditors - Citibank (2016-CFPB-0003) and JPMorgan Chase Bank NA (2017-CFPB-0015)

The Compliance Professionals Forum's CFPB Consent Order Report tracks and summarizes all industry-relevant CFPB orders, so you know which apply to you and how. The Consent Order Report has just been fully updated and is available to Forum members for download.


More Call Block Talk from the FCC

Earlier this week, the Consumer Advisory Committee of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met to discuss, among other things, "Unwanted Call Blocking."

The deets

The following recommendations were made by the committee:

  • For those service providers that have implemented any of the recommendation in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) / Notice of Inquiry (NOI), they should inform consumers of those implementations. (In March of this year the Robocalls Working Group developed a set of recommendations that were made available in a NPRM/NOI. The goal of the rulemaking activity was to facilitate voice service providers’ blocking of illegal robocalls.)
  • The FCC should encourage stakeholders from consumer and industry sectors to collaborate to address unintended consequences.
  • The FCC should encourage voice providers to offer consumers other, optional, categories that can be blocked.
  • The FCC should study the effectiveness of these methods after two years in place.

None of the panelists that provided updates, nor any of the CAC members, represented industries affected by the blocking activities.

Meanwhile…

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking / Notice of Inquiry seems to contemplate some of the right questions and the wheels of the rulemaking process are turning, BUT blocking by voice carriers has already begun -- absent any of the contemplated protections for legitimate callers.