Debt collection law firms have one of the highest frequencies of reported malpractice claims/incidents for all types of law firms. While most claims are relatively small, the frequency of claims drives up attorney malpractice rates for all law firms doing debt collection. There is always the fear by insurance carriers that just one Fair Debt Collection procedure violation can turn into a large class action against a debt collection firm. The frequency and severity of debt collection claims has restricted the number of malpractice insurance carriers that are willing to write insurance for these firms. Fortunately over the past few years most of the ‘bad actors’ that did not follow the law are gone. But there are still a few out there that drive up insurance rates for all. In addition, novel litigation by plaintiff attorneys continues to change the landscape of what are acceptable procedures for debt collection. This case brings up one of those issues.
In Matthew Michel v Credit Protection the court was asked for a summary judgement ruling on whether Credit Protection Association LP (CPA) was required to cross reference a request by a debtor to stop calling over multiple debts being collected by the same credit agency for different clients.
Originally, Michel was being called by CPA for Comcast debt that was owed. Michel states that in January 2013, after being contacted by CPA multiple times that he orally advised CPA to stop calling his cell phone. CPA states that they stopped calling Michel at that time over the Comcast debt.
In April 2013, Michel starting receiving calls again from CPA on his cell phone. Michel states that he did not know that CPA was collecting for different debt. CPA states that the calls being made between April 2013 until January 2014, were for ComEd debt and that the Comcast file had been closed.
Michel feels that these continued calls were in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) as the 1st call to CPA advising them to stop should have revoked 'consent to call' his cell for any and all debt that CPA might be working on currently or in the future. Michel feels that CPA should have a central ‘Do-Not-Call’ list that should be used in all such instances.
The US District Court ruled in favor of CPA stating the each debt ‘consent to call’ needs to be revoked individually and that CPA does not need to cross reference between different clients to determine whether a debtor has revoked his permission to call.
As this was a partial summary judgement for this one issue, and with other jurisdictions ruling differently it is likely not the last word on requiring debt collectors having cross reference ‘Do-Not-Call’ lists between clients.