Atlanta based Frederick J. Hanna & Associates successfully defended itself against an FDCPA lawsuit filed by a New York resident in a New York federal district court. The Daily Report newspaper reports that a Syracuse, New York resident sued Hanna for violation of the FDCPA after receiving a collection letter that threatened future “additional remedies” if payment was not made.
The FDCPA prohibits a threat by a collection agent to take any action that “cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken” in debt collection efforts. Hanna & Associates does not employ lawyers licensed to practice in New York state. The plaintiff alleged an FDCPA violation because attorneys not licensed in New York cannot routinely file suit in New York courts.
The district court judge agreed with Hanna that the language of the collection letter did not suggest “authorized, likely and imminent” legal action. Because the collection letter did not mention terms such as “litigation,” “lawsuit,” “court” or similar terms it did not imply that legal action had been or was about to be taken.
As a large and experienced collection law firm, Hanna & Associates has obviously spent time crafting the collection letters it uses. Other collection agencies and/or law firms might not be quite so careful.
If an out of state law firm sends you a collection letter that specifically threatens litigation and that law firm is not authorized to practice in your state, you may have a claim. Further, telephone collection calls that threaten legal action by a company or law firm not authorized to practice in your state are actionable as well. Not sure what to do? Contact our office and we’ll review the collection letter for you.
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