DEBT COLLECTORS CANNOT SHIELD THEMSELVES FROM LIABILITY FOR ILLEGAL COLLECTION ATTEMPTS TAKEN BY OTHERS ON THEIR BEHALF

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a debt collector is liable for the illegal actions of its attorneys and other agents that are taken on the debt collector’s behalf, as long as the attorney or agent is also acting as a debt collector.  In that case, Asset Acceptance, LLC, a nationwide debt collector, hired a law firm to send debt collection letters on behalf of Asset Acceptance to consumers.  However, the law firm used form letters that did not comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) such as failing to clearly identify the name of the creditor and contained confusing language.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the letters sent by the law firm violated the FDCPA.  Ultimately, the court held that Asset Acceptance was liable for the violations of the FDCPA by the law firm that sent the illegal debt collection letters on its behalf.  In support of its decision, the court stated that “A debt collector should be not be able to avoid liability for unlawful debt collection practices simply by contracting with another company to do what the law does not allow it to do directly . . .

[W]e think that it is fair and consistent with the Act to require a debt collector who is independently obliged to comply with the Act to monitor the actions of those it enlists to collect debts on its behalf.”

This opinion is very important to consumers.  If the court had decided in favor of Asset Acceptance, then debt collectors could hire other companies to do its dirty work and shield themselves from liability by pointing the finger at the other companies.  This opinion holds debt collectors accountable for illegal debt collection practices made by others on their behalf and thus prohibits debt collectors from using others to circumvent the law.

If you have received confusing debt collection letters, been a victim of debt collector harassment and abuse, or receive threatening and harassing phone calls from debt collectors and want to speak to a lawyer, contact us at Credit Repair Lawyers of America.  Call Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (888) 293-2882 or email him at gary@creditrepai

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