In Judge Autrey dismissed an FDCPA claim filed by a consumer’s lawyer who received a ‘dunning’ letter from a debt collector attempting to ascertain his possible representation of a consumer.
On July 27, 2020, Defendant attempted to collect the alleged consumer debt from the Consumer via mail by sending its initial collection letter to Plaintiff. Plaintiff received this initial collection letter on or about August 3, 2020, which stated that Plaintiff had been identified as an attorney representing Consumer and asked Plaintiff to verify his representation of Consumer on the debt. The Consumer never identified Plaintiff as the Consumer’s attorney, and Plaintiff never identified himself as the Consumer’s attorney. The letter further explained that the Consumer had thirty days to dispute the debt, and it instructed Plaintiff to contact Defendant regarding his representation. Plaintiff became concerned and did not recognize Consumer as a current or former client and could not ascertain why he was receiving Defendant’s collection letter.
The District Court found that section 1692c did not protect third parties.
Here, the letter was sent to Plaintiff, an attorney who has represented a number of consumers in bankruptcy proceedings. It appears from the letter, which the Court can consider on this motion, since it is necessarily embraced by the pleadings that it was merely an attempt to obtain information, not an attempt to collect the debt specifically from the consumer. The letter asks Plaintiff to confirm representation, quite possibly an attempt by the debt collector to ascertain whether the automatic bankruptcy stay applied to the consumer. The Eighth Circuit has not had occasion to analyze whether Section 1692c applies to persons other than a consumer. This Court agrees with the greater weight of authority that concludes, based on the definitions in the statute, as well as other subchapters of the FDCPA, which discuss applicability of remedies for persons other than consumers, that only consumers had standing to bring Section 1692c claims. See, Todd v . Collecto, Inc., 731 F.3d 734, 737-38, (7th Cir. 2013)(“In contrast to § 1692d, § 1692c restricts debt collectors’ communications with and about consumers and is understood to protect only the consumer-debtors themselves”; Montgomery v. Huntington Bank, 346 F.3d 693, 696 (6th Cir. 2003)(“relief is limited to ‘consumers’ only under § 1692c.”) ; Wright v. FinanceService of Norwalk, Inc., 22 F.3d 647, 649 n. 1 (6th Cir.1994) (en banc); Hayes v. Receivables Performance Mgmt., LLC, No. 17-CV-1239, 2018 WL 4616309, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 26, 2018)(Plaintiff is not a consumer under the FDCPA and therefore cannot pursue any claims under § 1692c(a)(1) since plaintiff was not obligated on the debt); Srachta v. Ditech Fin. LLC, No. 17-CV-01370, 2017 WL 5903836, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 30, 2017)(“Section ‘1692c restricts debt collectors’ communications with and about consumers and is understood to protect only the consumer-debtors themselves.’ Todd v. Collecto, Inc., 731 F.3d 734, 737 (7th Cir. 2013).”