South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Attorney and Creditor Liable for FDCPA Collection Violations
Description Appeals court held that both an attorney who allowed his letterhead to be used for debt collection purposes that implied the threat of legal action and the creditor that hired him, were both liable for violating the FDCPA by sending threatening letters to debtors that were not truthful.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; Violation; Liability; Attorney
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Nielsen received a letter from attorney Dickerson advising her that the balance on her GM credit card account was past due. Nielsen sued Dickerson and others under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in a class action suit for falsely suggesting that an attorney was actively involved in GM's debt collection effort. The trial court granted Nielsen summary judgment; Dickerson appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Attorney Dickerson is liable under the FDCPA for the misleading nature of the debt collection letters sent on behalf of the creditor. He allowed his letterhead to be used for this purpose and was not genuinely involved in debt collection, so the letter was misleading. The creditor Dickerson was working for, a bank, qualifies as a debt collector for purposes of the FDCPA and is also liable under the statute.

Citation Nielsen v. Dickerson, 307 F.3d 623 (7th Cir., 2002)

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