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FCC’s Robocall Ruling Raises Industry Concerns of Erroneous Blocking of Their Lawful Calls

While most Americans might breathe a sigh of relief upon learning of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) June 6, 2019 5-0 bipartisan vote authorizing phone companies to automatically identify and block unwanted robocalls, shielding us from those annoying voices describing the expiration of our car’s warranty, spoof numbers claiming fake tax bills, and the like, various trade groups have voiced concerns including the American Bankers Association, the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, the Credit Union National Association, the National Retail Federation, and the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. Chief among concerns for these groups is that the call blocking may not distinguish illegal telemarketing and scams from legitimate calls placed once a subscriber consents, as well as a lack of clear redress for any erroneous blocking. More ›

Seventh Circuit Awards Legal Costs and Implements a Major Reduction in Plaintiff's Requested Attorneys' Fees in a FCRA and FDCPA Claim

In Paz v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, a debtor sued for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Within a month of filing suit, the creditor invoked Rule 68 in making a formal offer to settle, and subsequently made two additional Rule 68 offers of judgment. The debtor never responded to these settlement offers, and later rejected a final offer to settle all claims, costs and attorneys' fees for $25,000. At trial, the debtor prevailed on both of his claims, but because the jury determined he had sustained no actual damages, his total recovery was limited to $1,000 in statutory damages. More ›

A Reminder for Borrowers: Post-Discharge Communications by Creditor Must Coerce or Harass in Order to Violate Bankruptcy Law

In Kirby v. 21 Mortg. Corp., the First Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel examined the Kirbys' claim that the 19 written communications they received from their mortgage holder following their Chapter 7 discharge violated the Bankruptcy Code 524(a)(2)'s injunction. The Kirbys further claimed bankruptcy discharge violations arising from their mortgage holder's delivery of an escrow account disclosure, short sale letter, cash-for-keys letter, and right to cure notice for a total of 26 post-discharge bankruptcy communications. Below, we take a closer look at the decision and its comprehensive review of bankruptcy discharge law along with the process for determining whether a post-discharge correspondence violates the bankruptcy code's injunction. More ›

Massachusetts Mortgage Holders Beware — Foreclosure Winning Bids May Now Need to Consider Development Potential of a Property

Under Massachusetts law, a foreclosing lender has a duty of good faith and reasonable diligence to obtain the highest possible price for a property at auction. Until recently, it was considered appropriate for the lender to make a credit bid up to the amount owed on the mortgage in order to satisfy this duty. However, a recent decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court has expanded the duty of good faith and reasonable diligence beyond a review of the property's assessed or appraised fair market value. A property's development potential may also need to be reviewed in order to calculate an acceptable winning bid. More ›

CFPB Proposes New Rules to Modernize Application of the FDCPA

On May 7, 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for application of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The significance of this NPRM cannot be understated. The CFPB's proposed rules cover multiple aspects of debt collection and are one of most substantial developments in the debt collection industry since the enactment of the FDCPA in 1977. The proposed rules seek to modernize application of the FDCPA to match the sophistication of today's electronic communications (e.g., voicemails, text messages, and electronic mail) and provide safe harbors and prescribe prohibited conduct. We've highlighted some of the proposed rules that demonstrate the significant impact on both debt collectors and debtors below. More ›

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Creditor's Failure to Send a Right to Cure Notice is not Grounds for a Monetary Damages Claim

A debtor ("Kirsch") recently sought monetary damages from his creditor ("Security Finance"), arguing that Security Finance had failed to provide sufficient notice of right to cure before commencing a debt collection action, as required by the Wisconsin Consumer Act (WCA), §§ 425.104 and 425.105. Kirsch argued that this failure to comply with the WCA also constituted a violation of Wis. Stat. § 427.104(1)(g), which authorizes an independent private right of action for damages. In Security Finance v Kirsch, the Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed, finding that a creditor's failure to send a notice of right to cure is a procedural error and is not a sufficient basis for a consumer to file a lawsuit seeking damages under the WCA. More ›

"Estoppel on Steroids" ‒ Does the Hobbs Act Require the District Court to Accept the FCC's Rule Interpreting an "Unsolicited Advertisement" under the TCPA?

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument on appeal from the Fourth Circuit's decision issued in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc. The issue is whether a district court must accept the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) rule interpreting an "unsolicited advertisement" under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The district court held that PDR Network, LLC did not violate the TCPA when it faxed an unsolicited advertisement to Carlton & Harris Chiropractic for a free Physicians' Desk Reference. In doing so, the district court declined to apply the FCC's 2006 rule that interpreted an unsolicited advertisement under the TCPA to include fax messages that promote goods or services at no cost. On appeal, however, the Fourth Circuit reversed concluding that the district court should have applied the FCC's rule because the Hobbs Act, which establishes judicial review for final orders of certain federal agencies, requires a party to first challenge an agency rule with the respective agency before challenging the rule in court. The Supreme Court is left to decide whether the district court has authority to hear PDR's challenge to the FCC's rule in its defense of this TCPA lawsuit without any prior agency challenge. More ›

SCOTUS Determines Foreclosure Firm is Not a Debt Collector Under the FDCPA's Primary Definition

Less than three months after hearing oral arguments in Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus LLP, Case No. 17-1307, the United States Supreme Court held, in a 9-0 decision, that a business engaged in nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings is not a "debt collector" under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA, "the Act"), except for the limited prohibitions set forth in 1692(f)(6). The decision provides helpful guidance to law firms and loan servicers who pursue nonjudicial foreclosures. More ›

The Third Circuit Takes a More Expansive Approach to What Constitutes a Debt Collector under the FDCPA

On February 22, 2019, the Third Circuit in Barbato v. Greystone Alliance, LLC, issued a decision that expands the scope of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act's (FDCPA) definition of the term "debt collector" to any entity that acquires debt for the purpose of collection, but outsources the actual debt collection activity. More ›

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Resolve Circuit Split on When the Limitations Period for FDCPA Claims Should Start

As we predicted last year, the United States Supreme Court earlier this week granted Plaintiff's petition for certiorari in Rotkiske v. Klemm to resolve a split in the circuits on whether the statute of limitations for a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) claim begins when the alleged violation occurred (known as the "occurrence rule") or when the consumer discovers the alleged violation (known as the "discovery rule"). More ›

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