In Brown v. MRS BPO, LLC, the Northern District of Illinois, acting on its own motion, granted summary judgment in favor of the defense on claims asserting violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA).
The matter involved two plaintiffs, a mother and her daughter. When the mother became delinquent on her credit card account, the creditor hired the defendant to collect the debt. Between September 30 and November 11, 2020, the defendant placed 17 calls to the daughter at a number it believed belonged to the mother.
Although both plaintiffs filed suit, the mother voluntarily dismissed her claims. The court granted summary judgement in favor of the defendant as to the majority of the daughter’s claims. This left claims for: (a) violation of FDCPA § 1692d(6) asserting that the defendant failed to provide a meaningful disclosure of its identity; and (b) violation of FDCPA § 1692e alleging that the defendant made false, deceptive, or misleading representations.
The daughter’s claims were premised on the fact that the calls she received were placed using a local telephone number, even though the defendant did not have an office in that area code. The daughter alleged that this was deceptive and tricked her into answering the calls.
Although it had initially denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to these two claims, the court, on its own motion, reconsidered and ruled in favor of the defense.
With regard to the § 1692d(6) claim, the court noted that the daughter did not complain about a lack of disclosure during the telephone calls. Rather, she asserted that the defendant violated the provision based on the caller identification display alone. Based on this, the court held that no reasonable juror could find that the defendant had failed to meaningfully disclose itself.
Similarly, with regard to the § 1692e claim, the court held that “the use of a particular telephone number, by a defendant whose business location is covered by a different area code, is not materially misleading information or prohibited conduct under the FDCPA.”
This case shows that the use of a local telephone number by a non-local debt collector is not enough, by itself, to give rise to a claim under the FDCPA.