New FDCPA Requirement for Debt Verification: Is There More to the Story? ("The Debt Collection Drill")
The enactment of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in 1977 began a long-standing debate regarding what information a debt collector must produce to a consumer in response to a request for validation. The FDCPA itself is vague, stating that after receiving a request for validation, “the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt . . . .” Nowhere in the FDCPA is the term “verification” defined. The legislative history of the FDCPA, however, provides some guidance where it states:
This provision will eliminate the recurring problem of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect debts which the consumer has already paid.
A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, Haddad v. Alexander, Zelmanski, Danner & Fioritto, PLLC, examined the issue of what constitutes adequate verification in the context of multiple requests for validation by the consumer focused on a specific portion of a debt. While it has been argued that the Haddad case requires a debt collector to provide itemized statements whenever any request for validation is received, this interpretation is not borne out by a careful reading of the case and other applicable precedent.
Moss & Barnett attorneys John Rossman and Mike Poncin examine the practical implications of Haddad and provide specific information necessary for debt collectors to respond to requests for validation in the latest episode of their podcast, The Debt Collection Drill.