In Bacalzo v. Credit Control, LLC, No. 20-16904 (KMW/MJS) (D.N.J. June 7, 2022), the court granted summary judgment in favor of a debt collector who included multiple contact addresses in a debt collection letter.
Defendant Credit Control LLC (Credit Control) sought to collect a credit card debt owed by plaintiff Linda Bacalzo. As part of its efforts, Credit Control sent the plaintiff a letter requesting payment. This letter listed Credit Control’s post office box and a street address, as well as its website, as its contact information.
The plaintiff filed suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), asserting that because the collection letter contained multiple addresses, the least sophisticated debtor would be confused or misled as to which address to send his/her debt dispute.
The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the letter violated FDCPA Section 1692e, finding that “the letter does not use any false representation or deceptive means to collect the debt or obtain information nor is it misleading.” Further, the court noted that the detachable portion of the letter only contains Credit Control’s P. O. Box address, which was highlighted. Accordingly, it held that “it seems reasonable that any consumer, including the least sophisticated debtor, would send correspondence to that address, even absent an express directive to do so.”
In addition to asserting that it was misleading, the plaintiff claimed the letter violated debt validation provisions of FDCPA Section 1692(g). Under this provision, a debt collector must: (1) provide a debt validation notice; and (2) cease all collection efforts if the consumer provides written notice that he/she disputes the debt or requests the original creditor’s name until the debt collector mails either the debt verification or creditor’s name to the consumer. The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, finding the letter’s inclusion of multiple addresses and its failure to expressly indicate where correspondence should be sent does not overshadow or detract from Credit Control’s validation notice.