Collector – August 2019 - 27

LLC, a court in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania found a validation notice
that mirrored the statutory language of
the FDCPA violated Section 809 because
it did not effectively convey that the
consumer must dispute the debt in
writing. The district court explained
that when viewed from the perspective
of the least sophisticated consumer,
the validation notice could reasonably
be interpreted to allow a consumer to
dispute the debt either orally or in writing
and, therefore, it was deceptive because
it could be read to have two different
meanings, one of which was inaccurate. 
In contrast to the two decisions
discussed here, a number of other courts
within the Third Circuit have reached the
opposite conclusion regarding validation
notices with the same language. For
example, in Rodriguez v. Northland Grp.,
LLC, the consumer alleged a validation
notice failed to clearly and effectively
convey to the consumer that any disputes
must be in writing. Like the consumers
in Cadillo and Durnell, the consumer
alleged that the first sentence of the
validation notice (Section 809(a)(3))
did not direct the consumer to submit a
dispute in writing, and that the next two
sentences (Sections 809(a)(4)-(5)), despite
referencing an "in writing" requirement,
were couched in permissive terms.
In other words, the consumer argued that
validation language left the door open for the
consumer to conclude that a written dispute
was merely an option, but not required.
The court, however, rejected the
consumer's argument, holding that when
read in full-considering not only the
Section 809(a)(3) notice, but also the
Sections 809(a)(4) and (a)(5) notices-the
least sophisticated consumer, reading
the first two sentences of the validation
notice together, would understand that the
"second sentence refers to the first; that is,
read together, unless the debtor disputes
the debt in writing, the debt would be
presumed valid."
The court explained that the debt collector
did not affirmatively state that a consumer

COLLECTOR 08.19

may "verbally" dispute a debt. Rather, the
only method for dispute expressly stated in
the letter was "in writing." The court also
observed the debt collector's validation
notice closely tracked the statutory language.
On this point, the court stated that "[a]s a
matter of fairness, [the debt collector] should
not be subjected to statutory liability in this
context when it reasonably relied on the very
statute to craft the notice at issue."
In another recent case, Riccio v. Sentry
Credit, Inc., et al, the U.S. District Court
for the District of New Jersey dismissed
a consumer's claim that a debt collector
violated Section 809 because the validation
notice could be construed to allow a
consumer dispute either by writing or
calling the debt collector. The notice in
question included the standard FDCPA
validation language, but also included three
prominently displayed text boxes instructing
the consumer to contact the debt collector by
one of three "convenient options," including
by mail, phone, or online.
The consumer argued the letter
violated the FDCPA by providing a debtor
with multiple options for contacting
the debt collector rather than requiring,
explicitly, any dispute be in writing.
The collector moved for judgment on
the pleadings, asserting that the letter
provided the required validation notice
and would not mislead or confuse the
least sophisticated consumer.
The court rejected the consumer's claim,
finding the letter specifically required the
consumer to "notify this office in writing
within 30 days from receiving this notice,
that you dispute the validity of this debt."
The court also observed that no additional
language appeared in the letter asking or
suggesting that a dispute of the debt may
be made by a telephone call. Further, the
court noted the letter did not instruct
the consumer to call if she felt she didn't
owe the debt, and the display boxes
merely provided consumers with the debt
collector's contact information.
Though the claim in Riccio differs
from the aforementioned cases in that it
challenged the inclusion of the contact

27


https://www.acainternational.org/industry-advancement-program/using-the-word-if-in-a-validation-notice-does-not-violate-the-fdcpa https://www.acainternational.org/industry-advancement-program/using-the-word-if-in-a-validation-notice-does-not-violate-the-fdcpa

Collector – August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector – August 2019

President’s Page
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
How a background in making people laugh has helped Roger Weiss, ACA’s new president, educate and engage an industry.
No Good Option
“You’ve got to be a compliance cheerleader for the organization, and that takes a lot of energy.”
Protecting Health Care Data
Calendar
Honor Roll
Education Spotlight
ACA SearchPoint
Ad Index
Membership
Last Word
Collector – August 2019 - Cover1
Collector – August 2019 - Cover2
Collector – August 2019 - 1
Collector – August 2019 - 2
Collector – August 2019 - 3
Collector – August 2019 - 4
Collector – August 2019 - President’s Page
Collector – August 2019 - Industry News
Collector – August 2019 - 7
Collector – August 2019 - 8
Collector – August 2019 - 9
Collector – August 2019 - Best Practices
Collector – August 2019 - 11
Collector – August 2019 - FYI
Collector – August 2019 - 13
Collector – August 2019 - Collection Tips
Collector – August 2019 - 15
Collector – August 2019 - How a background in making people laugh has helped Roger Weiss, ACA’s new president, educate and engage an industry.
Collector – August 2019 - 17
Collector – August 2019 - 18
Collector – August 2019 - 19
Collector – August 2019 - 20
Collector – August 2019 - 21
Collector – August 2019 - 22
Collector – August 2019 - 23
Collector – August 2019 - No Good Option
Collector – August 2019 - 25
Collector – August 2019 - 26
Collector – August 2019 - “You’ve got to be a compliance cheerleader for the organization, and that takes a lot of energy.”
Collector – August 2019 - 28
Collector – August 2019 - 29
Collector – August 2019 - Protecting Health Care Data
Collector – August 2019 - 31
Collector – August 2019 - 32
Collector – August 2019 - 33
Collector – August 2019 - Calendar
Collector – August 2019 - Honor Roll
Collector – August 2019 - Education Spotlight
Collector – August 2019 - 37
Collector – August 2019 - 38
Collector – August 2019 - 39
Collector – August 2019 - 40
Collector – August 2019 - 41
Collector – August 2019 - 42
Collector – August 2019 - 43
Collector – August 2019 - 44
Collector – August 2019 - 45
Collector – August 2019 - 46
Collector – August 2019 - 47
Collector – August 2019 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector – August 2019 - Ad Index
Collector – August 2019 - Membership
Collector – August 2019 - 51
Collector – August 2019 - Last Word
Collector – August 2019 - Cover3
Collector – August 2019 - Cover4
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