In Beider v. Retrieval Masters Creditors Bureau, Inc., 2015 WL 7454119 (E.D.N.Y., 2015), Judge Hurley dismissed an FDCPA claim grounded in Plaintiff’s claim that the Defendant debt collector did not collect in its “true name” because it collected in a licensed “DBA”, the name of which suggested specialization in collection of the type of debts owed.
Plaintiff claims that defendant violated the preface of § 1692e, which prohibits the debt collector from engaging in false, deceptive, and misleading communications, “by creating a mass-produced and disseminated letter which deceptively and falsely identifies itself as a legitimate corporation authorized to conduct business in the State of New York, when Defendant’s professed name as featured on its correspondence, i.e., ‘American Medical Collection Agency’ does not exist in the database of corporations registered to conduct business with the Division of Corporations of the Secretary of State of New York, but is, in fact, listed with said office among ‘inactive’ corporations under the designation, ‘Inactive – dissolution September 9, 1987.’ “ (Compl.¶ 32.) Plaintiff claims further that defendant’s “address, street number, suite number, city and zip code are attributed to another company in the New York Secretary of State database of corporations, being ‘Retrieval–Masters Creditors Bureau, Inc.’ “ (Id.) According to plaintiff, defendant uses the fictitious name of American Medical Collection Agency “to suggest association with medical providers nationally and thereby intimidate and mislead consumers into attributing a national and/or medical authority to Defendant.” (Id.) Plaintiff also claims that this behavior violates § 1692e(14), which prohibits debt collectors from using a name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business. Defendant argues in response that “the FDCPA does not itself define what is meant by ‘true name’ for purposes of this section” and that American Medical Collection Agency is a licensed trade name, and thus, the name qualifies as a true name under the statute. In support, it cites various cases in which courts determined that use of a licensed “trade name” did not violate § 1692e. See e.g., Kizer v. Amer. Credit & Collection, 1990 WL 317475, at *6 (D.Conn. Dec. 17, 1990) (“[T]he court holds that the name under which a debt collector is licensed to do business in the state of Connecticut is the debt collector’s true name for purposes of the FDCPA.”). Indeed, courts in this circuit have held as such. See e.g., id.; Orenbuch v. North Shore Health Sys., Inc., 250 F.Supp.2d 145, 151–52 (E.D.N.Y.2003). Here, although by looking solely at the Complaint, it is not clear whether American Medical Collection Agency is a licensed trade name, defendant submits a copy of a license from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and a certificate from the New York Corporations and State Records Division demonstrating that American Medical Collection Agency is licensed to do business in New York. (Ex. B. to Decl. of Jeffrey S. Wollman.) Without converting this motion into one for summary judgment, the Court may take judicial notice of these documents in order to establish that defendant’s use of a licensed trade name does not violate § 1692e. See In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Prods. Liability Litig., 2013 WL 4008632, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2013) (discussing the court’s taking of judicial notice of party’s licenses and permits issued by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico). Therefore, plaintiff’s § 1692e and § 1692e(14) claims based on use of a false name are dismissed with prejudice.