Second Circuit Holds Writing Requirement for Debt Challenge Violates FDCPA

Posted on June 3rd, 2013 in Consumer Finance, Courts By BuckleySandler

On May 29, in a case of first impression for that circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a debt collector’s collection notice requiring a debtor to dispute a debt in writing violated the FDCPA’s debt notice provisions, provided for in Section 1692g. Hooks v. Forman, Holt, Eliades & Ravin, LLC, No. 12-3639, 2013 WL 2321409 (2nd Cir. May 29, 2012). In so holding, the Second Circuit joined the Ninth Circuit but split from the Third Circuit, which has held that a notice imposing a written requirement does not violate the FDCPA. Here, a district court dismissed a case brought by two debtors in a putative class action against a debt collector for allegedly violating the FDCPA by including in debt notices a requirement that debt disputes be submitted in writing. On appeal, the Second Circuit held that language of Section 1692g(a)(3), which provides the basic right to dispute the debt, does not incorporate the writing requirement included specifically in other sections of 1692g. The court held that the FDCPA intentionally established a bifurcated system that allows a debtor to protect that basic right through an oral dispute, while triggering a broader set of rights by disputing a debt in writing. The court vacated a judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings.

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