Collector - April 2021 - 48

LASTWORD

To the Letter 
This interview is an excerpt from a recent ACA Hot Topic webinar on claim trends and ways ACA members
can lessen or eliminate their risk exposure. 

I

n a recent ACA International Hot Topic
webinar, industry experts reviewed the 
biggest claim trends they're seeing right now,
including common letter violations. This is
an edited excerpt from their conversation.
Evers Tillman: There are many issues
with respect to letters. Examples could be
implying that the balance would increase due
to interest or late fees and overshadowing of
the validation rights. Another example 
would be lawsuits filed for failing to
send a validation letter as the contact was
made. If consumers find out about a debt
from another source and call to request a
validation letter, those requests should be
handled appropriately.  
Be sure to listen to what the consumer has
to say and take the necessary steps.  
Another issue is failing to properly
identify your creditor, whether it's a current
or an original creditor. If, for example, the
letter identifies three different entities, a current
creditor or the original creditor, the regular
creditor and the previous creditor, someone
could argue that is confusing.  
Another issue is trying to collect a debt that's
been discharged in bankruptcy. Frequently,
the collector's client, who has gotten the
notice, has failed to notify the collector of
the bankruptcy. It's little things like this that
unfortunately can result in lawsuits. 
 Tessmer: Michael, is there anything that
you can see, or you have seen, that members
can do to try to prevent these types of
situations from occurring? 
Klutho: Let me just say this as to what
I've gleaned from COVID as it relates to
FDCPA claims: the consumer lawyers like
letter claims, especially in times of COVID,

48

because they can just sit in the comfort of
their homes and go through your letters and
flyspeck everything that's in there. They'll
find bizarre, idiosyncratic interpretations of
your letters and challenge them on a class
basis. It's easy for them.   
That basically militates in favor of: Get
your letters reviewed and get them reviewed
regularly because the law does constantly
evolve. One of the items Carine talked
about-failing to properly convey that
certain disputes must be in writing-has
evolved over the last several years.   
In a validation there are these three
sentences: You have to dispute within 30 days
of receipt and if you don't a collector is going
to assume it's valid. That dispute does not need
to be in writing-it can be oral. The second is
if you want to get validation/verification, that
needs to be in writing. And the last is if you
want to get the name of the original creditor-
it's not the same as a current creditor-
that also needs to be in writing.   
But the Court of Appeals in the 3rd Circuit
screwed all of that up. They've since reversed
themselves and fixed it, but it's that kind of
confusion, frankly, even within the judiciary-
these are appellate judges that struggle to get
this right, though they finally did-that's what
the plaintiff 's lawyers are trying to exploit. 
So letters are incredibly important.
Certain information has to be sent in one
way or another to the consumer. But it's the
form in which you send it. Pay attention
to things like overshadowing or implying
certain things are going to happen, especially
if the balance is going to increase or
decrease. And there's a lot of nuance that
goes into letters, which is why having your

letters checked and double-checked to stay
on top of this is incredibly important.
ACA All-Access Training Zone subscribers have
free access to this recording. Log in and listen to
it here: www.acainternational.org/products/
ht-top-5-claim-trends.
This article is for general informational purposes
only and is not legal advice and should not
be construed as legal advice. The information
in this article is descriptive only. Actual
coverage is subject to the language of the
policies as issued. The views and opinions
expressed herein are those of the author and do
not necessarily reflect those of QBE Holdings,
Inc. or its subsidiaries, business units or affiliates.

Title: Top 5 Errors and Omissions
Claim Trends 
Participants: Raelene Grotts, 
senior claims technical specialist,
QBE; Michael Klutho, shareholder,
Bassford Remele; Dereck
Tessmer, sales manager, Collectors
Insurance Agency; Carine Evers
Tillman, senior claims technical 
specialist, QBE 
Air date: 12/17/2020 

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.acainternational.org/products/ht-top-5-claim-trends http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Collector - April 2021

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