Recently, in 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.