Collector - November 2020 - 38

GOVERNMENTAFFAIRS

When You Can't Pass the Buck
Understanding bona fide error and vicarious liability.
By Colin Winkler and Betsy Clarke

"T

he buck stops here." President
Harry Truman famously kept
a sign with those words on
his desk in the Oval Office, and he often
mentioned the phrase in his speeches. In
his 1953 farewell address, Truman made
reference to the maxim one last time, when
he reiterated his view that "the president ...
can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else
can do the deciding for him. That's
his job."

BONA FIDE ERROR
For better or worse, "the buck stops here"
holds true for debt collection agencies

38

operating under strictures of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act, too.
Section 813 of the FDCPA, codified at
15 U.S.C. 1692k, provides that "[a] debt
collector may not be held liable in any
action brought under this subchapter if the
debt collector shows by a preponderance
of evidence that the violation was not
intentional and resulted from a bona fide
error notwithstanding the maintenance of
procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any
such error."
This facet of the FDCPA's "civil liability"
provision effectively acknowledges what should
be common sense: mistakes will happen.

Note, however, that the U.S. Supreme
Court held in Jerman v. Carlisle, McNellie,
Rini, Kramer & Ulrich LPA, 559 U.S. 573
(2010), that mistakes covered by the bona fide
error defense must be mistakes of fact -"the
bona fide error defense ... does not apply to
a violation of the FDCPA resulting from a
debt collector's incorrect interpretation of the
requirements of that statute."
But for the agency that lacks appropriate
policies and procedures or fails to adhere to
them (or to document adherence to them)
the bona fide error defense likely won't be
available. Or, to put things in Truman's
terms: The buck stops with you. For this

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Collector - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - November 2020

Collector - November 2020 - Cover1
Collector - November 2020 - Cover2
Collector - November 2020 - 1
Collector - November 2020 - 2
Collector - November 2020 - 3
Collector - November 2020 - 4
Collector - November 2020 - 5
Collector - November 2020 - 6
Collector - November 2020 - 7
Collector - November 2020 - 8
Collector - November 2020 - 9
Collector - November 2020 - 10
Collector - November 2020 - 11
Collector - November 2020 - 12
Collector - November 2020 - 13
Collector - November 2020 - 14
Collector - November 2020 - 15
Collector - November 2020 - 16
Collector - November 2020 - 17
Collector - November 2020 - 18
Collector - November 2020 - 19
Collector - November 2020 - 20
Collector - November 2020 - 21
Collector - November 2020 - 22
Collector - November 2020 - 23
Collector - November 2020 - 24
Collector - November 2020 - 25
Collector - November 2020 - 26
Collector - November 2020 - 27
Collector - November 2020 - 28
Collector - November 2020 - 29
Collector - November 2020 - 30
Collector - November 2020 - 31
Collector - November 2020 - 32
Collector - November 2020 - 33
Collector - November 2020 - 34
Collector - November 2020 - 35
Collector - November 2020 - 36
Collector - November 2020 - 37
Collector - November 2020 - 38
Collector - November 2020 - 39
Collector - November 2020 - 40
Collector - November 2020 - 41
Collector - November 2020 - 42
Collector - November 2020 - 43
Collector - November 2020 - 44
Collector - November 2020 - 45
Collector - November 2020 - 46
Collector - November 2020 - 47
Collector - November 2020 - 48
Collector - November 2020 - Cover3
Collector - November 2020 - Cover4
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202012
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202011
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202010
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202009
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202008
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202007
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202006
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202005
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202004
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202003
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202002
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202001
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201912
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201911
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201910/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201909/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201908/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201907/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201906/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201905/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201904/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201903/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201902/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201901/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201812/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201811/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201810/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201809/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201808/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201807/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201806/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201805/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201804/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201803/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201802/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201801/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201712/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201711/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201710/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201709/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201708/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201707/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201706/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201705/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201704/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201703/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201702/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201701/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201612/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201611/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201610/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201609/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201608/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201607/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201606/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201605/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201604/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201603/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201602/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201601/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201512/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201511/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201510/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201509/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201508/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201507/
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com