Sixth Circuit Holds That Mortgage Foreclosures are Debt Collections Under the FDCPA

Posted on January 19th, 2013 in Courts, Mortgages By BuckleySandler

On January 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that mortgage foreclosures are debt collections under the FDCPA. Glazer v. Chase Home Finance LLC, No. 10-3416, 2013 WL 141699 (6th Cir. Jan. 14, 2013). The decision rejects the view held by a majority of district courts, including the district court in this case, that mortgage foreclosures are generally outside the scope of the FDCPA because they are enforcements of a security instrument, not attempts to collect money. In this case, the borrower brought suit alleging that the law firm that attempted to foreclose on his property violated the FDCPA, and the district court dismissed the claim, ruling that foreclosures are not debt collections. In reaching its conclusion, the Sixth Circuit reasoned that “whether an obligation is a ‘debt’ depends not on whether the obligation is secured, but rather upon the purpose for which it was incurred.” The court explained that collecting such a debt can occur through personal solicitation or legal proceedings. As such, the court held that “every mortgage foreclosure, judicial or otherwise, is undertaken for the very purpose of obtaining payment on the underlying debt,” and, therefore, every mortgage foreclosure is a debt collection. Further, the court held that lawyers who meet the general definition of “debt collector” must comply with the FDCPA when engaged in a mortgage foreclosure. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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