The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives consumers crucial protections against predatory debt collection practices, such as calling late at night, using harassing language, pursuing individuals for debts they don’t owe, and using misleading communications in debt collection attempts. The FDCPA governs the practices of third-party debt collectors, those who buy a delinquent debt from original creditors, like medical providers or credit card companies.
A common practice of these third-party debt collectors is to outsource parts of its debt-collection operations to various vendors. In an apparent issue of first impression, the Eleventh Circuit considered whether the FDCPA applies to communications between a third-party debt collector and its vendors. The FDCPA prohibits debt-related communications about a consumer with third parties without the consumer’s consent or a court order. Thus, the issue for the Eleventh Circuit was whether communications between a debt collector and its vendors constituted debt-related communications about a consumer in violation of the FDCPA. In a decision that has the potential to upend the debt collection industry, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that such communications were in fact governed by the FDCPA. A likely result of this decision will be a wave of FDCPA class action lawsuits, particularly in the states within the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Florida and Georgia). Continue reading ›