In Caudillo v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, 2013 WL 4102155 (S.D.Cal. 2103), Judge Gonzalez found that a debt collector’s failure to identify the original creditor a state-court debt collection complaint was deceptive.
This Court and others have repeatedly held that a debt collection complaint that “fail[s] to identify … the original creditor, is both deceptive and material under the least sophisticated consumer standard, [and thus] constitutes a violation of § 1692e.” Heathman v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, 2013 WL 3746111, at *4–5 (S.D.Cal. July 15, 2013) (recounting examples of the “easy to conceive potential frustration to the least sophisticated consumer [posed by] failure to identify the original creditor”); Thomas v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, Case. No. 12cv1188–WQH–WMc, Dkt. No. 35 at 8–9, 11 (S.D.Cal. Aug. 12, 2013) (“The Court finds PRA’s failure to identify the original creditor in the State Court Complaint … constitute[s] a violation of the FDCPA.”); Tourgeman v. Collins Fin. Services, Inc., 2011 WL 3176453, at *5 (S.D.Cal. July 26, 2011) (holding that failure to identify “the original creditor unquestionably could ‘frustrate a consumer’s ability to intelligently choose his or her response,’ “ and stating that “the Court can conceive of nary a situation more confusing than receiving a dunning letter identifying an original creditor to whom the consumer never was indebted.”); accord Isham v. Gurstel, Staloch & Chargo, P.A., 738 F.Supp.2d 986, 996 (D.Ariz .2010) (“To preserve the protections and policies of the FDCPA, it is important to know the proper identity of the creditor. Knowing a creditor’s identity allows the ‘least sophisticated consumer’ to make more informed decisions on how to communicate with the creditor and avoid being misled.”); Wallace v. Washington Mut. Bank, F.A., 683 F.3d 323, 327 (6th Cir.2012) ( “District courts have decided, and we agree, that a[ ] false representation of the creditor’s name may constitute a false representation … under Section 1692e” because it may “cause[ ][ ] confusion and delay in trying to contact the proper party concerning payment … and resolution of the problem.”) (internal quotation omitted); Schneider v. TSYS Total Debt Management, Inc., 2006 WL 1982499, at *3 (E.D.Wisc. July 13, 2006) (“without the full and complete name of the creditor … the unsophisticated debtor would be confused by the collection letter.”); Hepsen v. J.C. Christensen and Associates, Inc., 2009 WL 3064865, at *5 (M.D.Fla. Sept. 22, 2009) (“Imposing liability based on a statement incorrectly identifying the name of a creditor comports with the purposes of the FDCPA.”). ¶ Here, PRA’s form complaint fails to identify, indeed omits any reference to, Wells Fargo, the original creditor. [See Doc. No. 28–7, Ex. A.] And it compounds that failure to identify by repeatedly referring to the purported debt as owed to, or a result of money lent or credit extended by, PRA. [Id. at 3,4.] Moreover, PRA conceded the importance of this omitted information by justifying its request to amend on grounds that “the complaint … should have stated that PRA was a valid assignee of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., the original creditor who contracted with [Caudillo].” [Doc. No. 28–7 at 3.] PRA’s conceded “failure to identify … the original creditor [in its form complaint], is both deceptive and material under the least sophisticated consumer standard, [and thus] constitutes a violation of § 1692e.” Heathman, 2013 WL 3746111, at *5; see also Gonzalez, 660 F.3d at 1061–62. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion and DENIES Defendant’s motion as to PRA’s liability under § 1692e of the FDCPA.