In a ruling issued August 15, 2014, the 4th Circuit in Russell v. Absolute Collection Services, Inc. ruled that a consumer does not need to dispute a debt in writing under 1692g of the FDCPA in order to have an actionable claim for violations of 1692e of the FDCPA.
The debt collector's argument here-- that a consumer needs to dispute a debt, in writing within 30 days of first contact from the collector under 1692g in order to have FDCPA rights at all-- genuinely confuses me. It would be a massive schism with the crystal clear language of the law itself, would be at odds with all prior case law on the subject, and would completely upend the collection industry as a whole. It's a collector's pipe dream because it would make all sorts of currently-illegal activity completely fair game, but it just isn't what the law says.
And yet collectors argue it anyway. I've had it stated to me in complete earnestness before (rarely, I should note; most everybody on the collector's side knows this just isn't the case). But Absolute Collection Services, Inc. actually made the argument in court and then appealed when it lost. Was it hoping to catch the 4th Circuit asleep at the wheel? Did it really think a panel of appellate judges and their clerks wouldn't have at bare minimum a functional understanding of the FDCPA? Was this just a moonshot sort of situation, where it figured why not try even if the odds are 1:1000 against it?
Anyway, the 4th Circuit roundly denied the argument, to the surprise of no one. Onward.
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