What is a “false, misleading and deceptive” communication under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) was enacted to “eliminate abusive debt collection practices.”   Among the abusive tactics that the FDCPA sought to eliminate was the proscription of “false, misleading and deceptive” communications from debt collectors to consumers.

Consumer, Paula Maple, took out a loan from Midland Funding, LLC successor in interest to Bank of America, N.A., for personal, family, or household services.  Sometime thereafter the debt was transferred to the law firm of Sprechman & Associates, P.A. for collection.

On March 6, 2012, Sprechman & Associates, P.A. sent a letter to Paula Maple which stated in part:.

“If your client fails to make payment or fails to make appropriate arrangements they will leave us with no choice but to subject all of their assets to actions to collect this Judgment.”

Paula Maple filed a lawsuit in United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, against Sprechman & Associates, P.A. alleging, among other things, that the statement in the letter were false given the numerous exemptions to executions on judgments.

Paula Maple also alleged in her lawsuit that the letter sent to her by Sprechman & Associates, P.A. violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.

Whether a collection letter or other communication is false, deceptive, or misleading under the FDCPA is determined from the perspective of the objective least sophisticated consumer.  Under this standard, collection notices can be deceptive if they are open to more than one reasonable interpretation, at least one of which is inaccurate.   Debt collectors that violate the FDCPA are strictly liable, meaning that a consumer need not show intentional conduct by the debt collector to be entitled to damages.

For more information about debt collection harassment, visit us at http://www.ConsumerRightsOrlando.com

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