In In re Argon Credit Llc, Nos. 16-39654, 21-00048, 2022 Bankr. LEXIS 2543, at *8 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. Sep. 15, 2022), Judge Thorne found that a deceptive letter that causes a Plaintiff to pay sums that the Plaintiff otherwise would not owe (in this case, because the debts were void or discharged by bankrutpcy) confers standing.
Plaintiffs next claim is brought under the CFDCPA, which is similar to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Violations include falsely representing “the character, amount, or legal status of any debt” and “[c]ommunicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. “[A]n FDCPA violation might cause harm if it leads a plaintiff to pay extra money, affects a plaintiff’s credit, or otherwise alters a plaintiff’s response to a debt.” Markakos v. Medicredit, Inc., 997 F.3d 778, 780 (7th Cir. 2021). Plaintiffs allege that FRS made false representations in collection letters regarding the sum of money they owe and that, because of these representations, Plaintiffs made payments. FRS cites to Pierre v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 29 F.4th 934 (7th Cir. 2022) in support of its argument that Plaintiffs have no standing to bring the CFDCPA claim. In Pierre, though, the plaintiffs did not have standing under the FDCPA because—even though they “received allegedly defective letters”—they were not harmed. “[C]ritically, [the plaintiff] didn’t make a payment, promise to do so, or otherwise act to her detriment in response to anything in or omitted from the letter.” Id. at 939. It followed that there was “nothing for the court to remedy.” Id. But, unlike the plaintiff in Pierre, Plaintiffs Kitchen and Hutchens did make payments. The fact that they acted to their detriment in response to FRS’s collection letters makes this case dissimilar to those in which courts have found no standing under the FDCPA. See, e.g., Smith v. GC Servs. Ltd. P’ship, 986 F.3d 708, 710 (7th Cir. 2021) (“[Plaintiff], who says that she was confused by the letter she received, does not contend that the letter’s supposed lack of clarity led her to take any detrimental step, such as paying money she did not owe. She therefore needs some other way to show injury.”); Larkin v. Fin. Sys. of Green Bay, Inc., 982 F.3d 1060, 1066 (7th Cir. 2020) (finding that plaintiffs lacked standing where they “did not contend, for example, that [defendant]’s communications caused the plaintiffs to pay debts they did not owe or created an appreciable risk that they might do so” or that they “were confused or misled to their detriment by the statements in the dunning letters, or otherwise relied to their detriment on the contents of the letters”). Plaintiffs contend that FRS’s collection letters led to them paying money they did not owe; they have standing to bring a CFDCPA claim.