Nunez v. Pinnacle Credit Services, LLC, the court affirmed that defendant did not violate the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act when telling a consumer that her account had been placed
with a debt collection firm. The case initially began after the defendant
bought a debt owed by Nunez to Verizon Wireless, which was subsequently
assigned to Dynamic Recovery. Nunez hired Asset Protection and Management,
Inc. (APM) to assist her in managing her credit.
A representative from APM contacted the defendant about Nunez’s debt
and was informed that that Nunez’s account had been placed with
Dynamic Recovery Solutions, a common debt collection agency. Upon inquiring,
as to whether APM could dispute the debt with the Defendant, the APM representative
was told that she needed to speak to Dynamic Recovery Solutions to dispute
the account, even though Defendant was the one that appeared on the credit report.
Nunez then brought a lawsuit against Pinnacle Credit Services for alleged
violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Nunez alleged in
her complaint that Defendant misled her and similarly situated consumers
into believing that Defendant would handle attempts to dispute a debt,
even though Defendant referred such disputes to Dynamic Recovery Solutions.
Furthermore, she alleged that this conduct violated the FDCPA’s
prohibition on the use of unfair or unconscionable means in connection
with collection of a debt.
The court stated that a communication from a debt collector is deceptive
when it “could mislead a putative debtor as to the nature and legal
status of the underlying debt, or could impede a consumer’s ability
to respond to or dispute collection.” It went on to find that Nunez
was unclear as to what representation or means employed by Defendant were
misleading or deceptive. It held that Defendant was not unclear when it
told the AMP representative that Dynamic Recovery Solutions had been assigned
to service the account as an outside agency. This statement was found
not to have had more than one reasonable interpretation, namely that Defendant
owned the debt and had assigned an agent to handle the collection process
on its behalf.
The court also noted that Nunez’s true claim appeared to be that
the FDCPA obliges owners of debt to personally register disputes from
consumers rather than delegating a task to an agent. However, the court
found that the statute and case law do not support her assertion, stating
Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of Defendant and granted summary
judgment because the conduct alleged here was not deceptive OR misleading.