In Salazar v. MFP, Inc., — F.Supp.2d —-, 2012 WL 762494 (M.D.Fla. 2012), Judge Hernandez-Covington held that a debt collector violated the FDCPA by honoring a cease-and-desist letter on one account but continuing to pursue another account.
Plaintiff asserts that Defendant violated this provision by sending her a collection letter on August 31, 2010, after she had sent her cease and desist letter on May 20, 2010. However, Defendant asserts that it acted in compliance with the statute because it had no further communication with Plaintiff on the closed account after receiving her May 20, 2010, cease and desist letter and because it had no further communication with Plaintiff on the new account after receiving her attorney’s October 4, 2010, cease and desist letter. Defendant argues that because the August 31, 2010, letter was generated for a new account—although for a debt from the same creditor and for the same amount—the letter did not violate the FDCPA as a matter of law. ¶ The Court is not convinced. The plain language of 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(c) states that “if a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(c) (emphasis added). By its terms, the statute concerns only “debts,” not “accounts” as urged by Defendant, and requires a debt collector to cease all communications regarding a specific debt, regardless of how that debt may be classified or re-classified in the future by the debt collector. Yet, Defendant would have the Court carve out an exception to the FDCPA that would allow for subsequent communications regarding a debt, as long as the debt was reassigned a new account number. Defendant does not provide any case law in support of its argument, and the Court has found no relevant authority necessitating such an exception. Accordingly, given that the August 31, 2010, letter sent by Defendant concerned the same $250 debt for which Plaintiff had previously requested Defendant cease communication, the Court cannot find as a matter of law that Defendant complied with the FDCPA. Thus, Defendant is not entitled to summary judgment on this issue.
The Court made no mention of the FTC Official Staff Commentary stating that the prohibition against contacting represented parties applies only to the debt at issue, not “other” debts. FTC Official Staff Commentary, §805.