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Consumer Protection — FDCPA

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Consumer Protection — FDCPA

A request that a debtor verify his debt does not violate 15 U.S.C. 1692(a)(4) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

“Plaintiffs’ core argument is that because the second sentence of the defendants’ letters omits the phrase ‘that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed,’ it creates the risk that an unsophisticated consumer who may wish to exercise his rights would fail to properly do so. Specifically, the unsophisticated consumer might be misled to request verification instead of to dispute the debt. The problem for the plaintiffs is that ‘the consumer can, without giving a reason, require that the debt collector verify the existence of the debt before making further efforts to collect it.’ DeKoven v. Plaza Assocs., 599 F.3d 578, 582 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). In other words, a request to verify the existence of a debt constitutes a ‘dispute’ under the Act. Id. This makes sense because unsophisticated consumers cannot be expected to assert their rights in legally precise phrases. Horkey v. J.V.D.B. & Assocs., Inc., 333 F.3d 769, 773 (7th Cir. 2003). So even if there is a literal distinction between requesting verification of a debt and disputing a debt, we treat a request for verification as a dispute within the meaning of the Act. DeKoven, 599 F.3d at 582.”


13-2084, 13-2164, 13-2297 & 13-2351 Gruber v. Creditors’ Protection Service, Inc.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Manion, J.

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