The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which bans various abuses by debt collectors, gives collectors a defense to lawsuits: the "bona fide error." A collector who can show that it broke the law by mistake despite having "procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error" can avoid paying for its violation of the FDCPA.
Last month, the 11th Circuit dismissed an FDCPA action against a collector, Isaac v. RMB, Inc., reasoning that RMB's legal violation was the result of a "bona fide error." This "bona fide error" argument doesn't get brought to court very often. It's exciting stuff! In this case, the collector sent a consumer a collection letter even though it had received a "cease-and-desist" letter from the consumer a few days before. As it turns out, the two employees at the collection office able to process the letter were 1) out sick for the week and 2) out on maternity leave, meaning there was a few day's delay in processing the letter. Can't help that! The letter didn't get processed until a few days later than it should have. The court found that this was essentially a one-off gap in the collector's operations, not an abuse worth punishing, and dismissed it out of hand.
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