The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Revised

By Lynda Laing

(Reprinted with permission from the Rhode Island Bar Journal, December 1989.)

In 1987, this author wrote an article in the Rhode Island Bar Journal concerning attorney regulation under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act1 (hereinafter "the Act"). Since July 6, 1986, every attorney who regularly collects debts for clients must follow this Act or be exposed to private causes of action brought by debtors. Such suits allow debtors to collect actual damages, statutory damages, attorney's fees, costs, and punitive damages.2 All collection letters, telephone calls, and lawsuits must conform to the Act. This article will serve to update my previous article.

Even though attorneys are subject to regulation, certain parties still remain exempt from the Act.3 Some of these exemptions are employees of the creditor collecting debts, the United States, sheriffs and constables.4 By including attorneys as regulated parties, Congress felt that consumers need protection from attorneys, as well as lay agencies, involved in these activities.

In this article and in the Act, a "consumer" means any natural person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay any debt.5 A "debt" means any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, household purpose, whether or not such obligation has been reduced to judgment.6 The purpose of the credit extended to the consumer determines whether the Act applies.7 The Act does not cover commercial/business debts.8 A "debt" includes consumer installment credit such as small loans, retail installment sales,9 dishonored checks, unpaid rent, medical bills, utility bills, insurance bills, student loans, parking tickets, and judgments.10 In a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opinion, a debt includes overdue rent.11 As a result, an attorney should be careful complying with the act.

In a recent case, Zimmerman v. HBO Affiliate Group,12 the Third Circuit Court determined a tort claim was not a "debt" contemplated by the Act.13 In Zimmerman, the plaintiff received a letter from an attorney threatening a lawsuit if the plaintiff did not settle with the defendant concerning plaintiffs alleged illegally receiving microwave television signals.14 The court found that the term "transaction" found in the definition of debt refers to the offer or extension of credit to a consumer.15 Nothing in the Act or its history led the Court to attribute to Congress a purpose to protect against a perceived problem with the use of abusive practices in collecting tort settlements from alleged tortfeasors through threats of legal action.16 Therefore, the court found that a tort was not a debt which required regulation under the Act.

The Act regulates "debt collectors." A "debt collector" includes any person whose principle business is collecting debts and who uses any instrumentality of mails or interstate commerce for that purpose, and any person who regularly collects debts owed to another.17 This term, especially the latter phrase, will include virtually all attorneys due to the amendment of the Act.18 In a nonbinding Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff opinion, the FTC states it will examine the frequency of the collection work and to a lesser extent the percentage of the law practice devoted to collection work in determining whether a person regularly collects debts for another.19 The FTC further believes that attorneys who practice law and limit their practice to legal activities (e.g. the filing and prosecution of lawsuits to reduce debts to judgment) are excluded from the Act.20 As a result, a prudent attorney will follow the Act without risking potential liability for failure to comply with the Act.

Regulation of Communications

To promote the Act's purposes, the Act limits the debt collector's communications with consumers.21 No oral communication can be made:

at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer. In the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector should assume that the convenient time for communicating with the consumer is after 8:00 a.m. and before 9:00 p.m.22

According to the FTC, Sunday contacts are prohibited by the Act because it is considered to be an unusual time to collect debts.23 The FTC has construed certain workplaces to be places "which should be known to be inconvenient," due to the nature of the workplace.24 For example, a factory may be an inconvenient place for communication.25

Telephone calls are not the only prohibited contact. In fact, a debt collector may be liable for emotional distress and embarrassment and humiliation suffered by the consumer for a letter sent to the consumer at his workplace.26 The Act, however, does not specifically disallow contacts at the place of employment "unless the collector knows the employer prohibits such contact."27

Besides these regulated contacts with consumers, the Act prohibits any communication with third parties.28 A collector may only communicate with the consumer or the consumer's attorney if the consumer is represented by counsel, a consumer reporting agency, the creditor, and the creditor's attorney.29

In Bieber v. Associated Collection Services, Inc.,30 the court looked to the purpose of the contact to determine whether liability should be imposed.31 In this case, a collector contacted a consumer, and the consumer told the collector he was represented by counsel.32 The collector did not terminate the conversation but, inquired whether the consumer planned to file bankruptcy.33 The court held that the collector did not violate the Act because the question asked was not designed to harass or abuse the consumer.34 This case is important to note because it enables an attorney to argue that even if he violates the Act, as long as the violation does not harass or abuse the consumer the attorney should not be liable for damages.

When communicating with third parties, a "consumer" is defined broadly to include a consumer's spouse, a parent (if the consumer is a minor), a guardian, an executor, or an administrator.35 The purpose of limiting communications is to

prohibit disclosing the consumer's personal affairs to third persons such as a consumer's friends, neighbors, relatives, or employer. Such contacts are not legitimate collection practices and result in serious invasions of privacy.36

This section may be violated even if the third party initiates the communication with the collector.37 Under no circumstances may the collector communicate with third parties unless the consumer has given prior consent to such communication or the court has given permission.38 This consent need not be in writing.39

The Act bars indirect communication with third parties.40 No communication may be by post card.41 Any envelope used by a collector may not contain language that indicates that the communication relates to the collection of a debt.42 For example, a collector's use of a return address if its business name indicates that it is in the debt collection business would be an indirect communication prohibited by the Act.43

An important exception contained in the Act allows the collector to acquire "location information" from third parties under limited circumstances.44 "Location information" means a consumer's place of abode and his telephone number at that place or his place of employment.45 In order to acquire location information, you must identify yourself and state that you are confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer.46 You cannot state that the consumer owes any debt and you may only communicate with that third party once.47 You cannot state you work for a credit bureau or that the consumer owes any money to the creditor.48 This exception prevents a collector from calling third parties under the pretense of gaining information already in his possession.49

A debt collector must cease all communications with a consumer if the consumer notifies the collector in writing that he refuses to pay the debt or the consumer wishes the collector to cease all communication with the consumer.50 After receiving this notice, a collector may advise the consumer that no further efforts to collect the debt will occur.51 A collector, however, may advise the consumer that the collector or the creditor may take specified actions to collect the debt.52

Actions Permitted or Restricted by the Act

The statute not only controls the means of communication but also the content of the communication.53 The Act prohibits harassment or abuse by collectors which would include:

(1) Threatening violence or other criminal means in order to collect a debt;

(2) Using profane language;

(3) Publishing lists of consumers who refuse to pay,

(4) Advertising the sale of any debt to coerce payment;

(5) Causing a telephone to ring repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass any person at the called number;

(6) Failing to disclose the caller's identity.54

Courts liberally construe this section to find that other conduct violates this section.55 For example, in Rutyna v. Collection Accounts Terminal,56 the Court examined a letter sent by a collector which stated:

You have shown that you are unwilling to work out a friendly settlement with us to clear the above debt. Our field investigator has now been instructed to make an investigation in your neighborhood and to personally call on your employer.57

The court found that this letter's tone violated the Act by causing the consumer intimidation and embarrassment.58 As a result, attorneys should be careful in their use of language to avoid an intimating tone; otherwise, a consumer may be able to collect statutory damages for this violation.

A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive or misleading representations or means in collecting a debt.59 This broad language of the Act includes, but does not limit the following as false representations:

(1) The false representation of the character, amount, or legal status of any debt;

(2) The false representation of any service(s) rendered for collection of a debt,

(3) The false representation that any individual is an attorney or from an attorney's office;

(4) The representation that non-payment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages unless such action is lawful and the collector intends to take such action.60

When writing demand letters, a collector must be able to carry out the threatened action contained in the demand letter.61 In West v. Costen,62 a collector wrote "warrant pending" on a notice sent to the consumer.63 By this action, the consumer claimed the collector personally threatened his arrest.64 The court granted the consumer's motion for summary judgment because the collector did not have the creditor's authority to arrest the consumer.65

Similarly, in Baker v. G.C. Services Corp.,66 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the language of a demand letter "create(d) the impression that legal action by the collector was a real possibility . . . and a consumer could legitimately believe that 'further collection procedures' meant court action even though the collector had no intention of pursuing such a course of action."67 The court awarded the consumer statutory damages and an attorney's fee absent of any proof of actual damages.68

Not all courts look at a consumer's impressions but rather look at the collector's actions. In Jeter v. Credit Bureau, Inc.,69 the collector threatened the consumer that legal action would be taken within five days.70 The Eleventh Circuit held that if the collector did not intend to take the threatened action and found a per se violation of the Act.71 This standard does not take into account the consumer's sophistication or what the consumer believes.72 As a result, a collector must be able to carry out the threatened action; otherwise, the Act will be violated.73

A collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect any debt.74 To collect an amount (including any interest, fee charge, or expense) unless expressly authorized by the agreement or law, is an unfair practice.75 In West v. Costen,76 the collector collected a service charge for checks returned for insufficient funds.77 Even though state law did not expressly permit or prohibit a collector from collecting a service charge, the court held the agreement creating the debt controlled.78 Since the agreement did not expressly authorize a service charge, the collector used an unfair collection practice.79

The Act mandates that the following are unfair practices:

(1) Collecting any amount (including interest, fee, charge, or expense) unless such amount is expressly authorized;

(2) accepting a check postdated by more than five days unless the consumer is notified in writing of the collector's intent to deposit the check;

(3) Soliciting a postdated check for the purpose of threatening criminal prosecution;

(4) Depositing or threatening to deposit any postdated check;

(5) Taking or threatening to take any nonjudicial action to effect dispossession of property if there is no present right to possession of the property.80

The FTC will examine a collector's actions to determine whether his activities will violate this provision. An act may be "unfair" if it causes injury to the consumer that is (1) substantial, (2) not outweighed by countervailing benefits or competition and (3) not reasonably avoidable by the consumer.81 In Kimber v. Federal Financial Corp.,82 the court examined an attorney's conduct in bringing suit against a consumer.83 The attorney received a claim against Kimber from his client that was approximately ten years old.84 The attorney made one telephone call to Kimber requesting payment prior to commencing suit.85 The court did not address whether a validation notice needed to be sent by the attorney because at the time of the communication, an attorney was still an exempt party. The court, however, held that the commencing of a lawsuit against Kimber after the statute of limitations had run was an unfair or unconscionable means to collect the debt.86 The court applied the least sophisticated consumer standard to find that few consumers would be aware that a statute of limitations defense could be used to defend the lawsuit.87 The court feared that consumers would unwittingly acquiesce to such lawsuits.88 Therefore, the court concluded that the collector who referred the claim to the attorney was liable for the attorney's violations based on an agency theory.89 To decide otherwise would allow a collector to evade the Act by hiring an attorney to do what it could not do itself.90

A collector who violates this section may also have violated the state unfair and deceptive trade practices act.91 Under state law, punitive damages and attorney's fees may be available for such unfair and deceptive trade practice.92

Actions Required by the Debt Collector

The Act requires a collector to send a validation notice to the consumer within five days of the initial communication. This notice should be sent regardless of whether anyone else has sent this notice. The notice should contain:

(1) the amount of the debt;

(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;

(3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the collector;

(4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt or any portion is disputed the collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of such verification of the debt or a copy of such verification or judgment and the same will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector, and

(5) a statement that upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period, the collector will provide the consumer with the original creditor's name and address.93

Within thirty days of the above notice, a consumer may send written notification to the collector that the debt or any portion is disputed.94 The consumer may also request the name and address of the original creditor.95 When the collector receives this notification, the collector must cease further collection.96

An attorney, however, may be able to file a complaint even if neither thirty days have passed nor has he received a consumer's dispute letter.97 It may be wise for an attorney who sends a validation notice to indicate that the attorney plans to commence suit before the thirty days passes. The FTC staff interpretation however states that an attorney cannot call or write to the consumer once the attorney receives the dispute notice.98

Once a collector receives such notice, the collector must obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment he wishes to enforce before he may proceed.99 The collector should mail a copy of the verification to the consumer along with any other requested information.100 No court may construe the failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt, however, as an admission of liability by the consumer.101

The Act does not prohibit other communications with the consumer. But any communications to the consumer must state that the collector is "attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose."102 If a collector chooses to send a form letter demanding payment, the validation of debt notice may be included or placed on the back of this form letter.103 The Act does not mandate any particular format, type size, location or conspicuous position of the validation notice. The Act only controls the content of the notice.104

Case law has held that the validation notice must be conspicuous and not misleading. In Ost v. Collection Bureau, Inc.,105 a collector sent a demand letter requesting payment of the debt within five days.106 On the back side of the demand letter, the validation notice appeared. The front of the demand letter contained no reference that the validation of debt notice was on the back side.107 The Court held that the demand letter must indicate that the validation notice was on the back side of the demand letter.108 Without this reference, a consumer would be misled because he would not be given notice of his rights to dispute the debt.109

Most courts apply a subjective test to determine whether a validation notice is misleading. In Baker v. G.C. Services Corp.,110 the notice failed to notify the consumer that he could dispute a portion of the debt.111 The court found that an unsophisticated consumer would not have had notice that he could dispute a portion of the debt without this information.112 As a result, if a collector places the exact language contained in the statue in its validation notice, most courts will not find any violation of the Act.

It is not clear whether a complaint or summons constitutes a communication under the Act requiring a validation notice. An attorney should carefully examine the definitional section of the Act. A "communication" is defined as the means of conveying information regarding debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium.113 The FTC in its proposed commentary to the Act, has taken the position that the filing of a lawsuit is not a communication within the meaning of the Act.114

In a court of law, these FTC interpretations are non-binding.115 The definition of communication, however, seems to indicate that a complaint is a communication which requires a validation notice.116 Unfortunately, if a complaint is a communication requiring a validation notice, the Act is in direct conflict with the Rules of Civil Procedure. If a consumer filed a notice notifying the collector to cease all communication with him, then a collector would not be able to proceed to obtain a default judgment.117 An attorney may not obtain a default judgment for thirty days even though the Rules allow a default to enter twenty days after service.118 The unresolved question of whether a complaint is a communication is a major problem with the Act. Without guidance from Congress, attorneys will have to determine what is a communication and be able to defend their position.

Legal Actions by Debt Collector

One unusual provision in the Act raises questions as to whether a collector can bring suit. Under the Act, a consumer may notify the debt collector in writing that he wishes the collector to cease further communication with the consumer.119 Upon this notification, the collector may not communicate further with the consumer.120 The Act provides an exception which allows the collector to advise the consumer that further efforts to collect the debt are being terminated. The collector may also notify the consumer that the collector may invoke specified remedies.121 The Act, however, does not specifically state what remedies the collector may invoke.

The Act states that "nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to authorize the bringing of a legal action by debt collectors."122 By amending the statute to include attorneys as regulated parties, Congress has ostensibly banned attorneys from bringing legal actions against consumers. However, Congress has decided to leave the authorization of who can bring legal suit to state regulation.123 All States have authorized attorneys to bring legal actions.124 Therefore, courts should not interpret this section of the Act to prevent attorneys from filing suit.125

No consumer may be sued in an inconvenient forum.126 The Act allows a collector to commence suit in the judicial district where: (1) the consumer signed the contract sued upon or, (2) where the consumer resides at the commencement of the action.127 If the debt is secured by property, then the attorney may bring suit where the real property is located. If there are multiple defendants living in separate districts the attorney must sue each defendant in the district of their residence unless each defendant signed the contract in one jurisdiction.128 An attorney may not sue a defendant where services were performed on an oral contract.129

Furnishing Deceptive Forms

Under Section 1692j(a), the Act prohibits the furnishing of a form if the person furnishing it knows that this form would create a false belief in a consumer.130 This section prohibits any person from furnishing such form even if the person does not qualify as a debt collector.131 The purpose of this section was to prohibit the practice of "flat-rating" (the selling of dunning letters to creditors).132

Civil Liability

The FTC and any private individual may enforce this Act.133 Any person affected by the collector's unfair collection practices may have standing to sue.134 Even a consumer who states that he does owe the entire debt has standing to assert violations to the Act.135

The courts split on whether communication with a third party can be the basis of an action by the third parties.136 In Whatley v. Universal Collection Bureau, Etc.,137 the court interpreted the Act's civil liability provision to allow third party claims. This provision states that "any debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of this subchapter with respect to any person is liable to such person . . .138 The Court held that this provision does not limit a private cause of action to "consumers."139 A consumer's parents were allowed to sue the collector for threatening them.140

But in West v. Costen,141 the court denied a mother's motion for summary judgment against a collector for the collector's illegal contact concerning her child's debt.141 The court declined to follow the civil liability provision that the Whatley decision applied. 143 Instead, the court examined the third party contacts' section and found that it contained language that made it applicable to consumers only.144 Therefore, the Court concluded only consumers have standing to sue collectors for violations concerning third party contacts.145

All causes of action brought under this section can be tried to a jury in a federal court without regard to the amount in controversy.146 All actions, however, must be brought within one year of the alleged violation.147 An individual may recover against the debt collector for any actual damage suffered, up to the sum of $1,000.00 in statutory damages, a reasonable attorney's fee and cost of suit.148 The Act authorizes class actions to be brought against collectors. Each named plaintiff of a class may recover the same amount as an individual would receive. All other class members may recover 1% of the collector's net worth or $500,000.00.149

Any person can receive statutory damages and attorney fees even if he cannot prove actual damages.150 In determining statutory damage, the court will consider:

(1) Frequency and persistence of noncompliance;

(2) The nature of noncompliance; and

(3) Whether noncompliance was intentional.151

The statutory damage award is limited to the sum of $1,000.00 regardless of the number of transactions or violations.152 A consumer may sue the firm and the employee individually.153 Since an employee of a debt collector is defined as a "debt collector" under the act, they are liable for the violations to the same extent as the firm.154

The Act provides a debt collector with a "bona fide error" defense:

A debt collector may not be held liable in any action brought under this subchapter if the debt collector shows by a preponderance of evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid such error.155

Some courts have held that reliance upon advice of counsel or a mistake about the law is insufficient by itself to raise the bona fide error defense.156 This defense only applies to clerical errors.157 Courts refuse to apply this defense unless the office has procedures to avoid violations of the Act.158

In Carrigan v. Central Adjustment Bureau,159 an employee of a credit bureau called a consumer after the consumer had written the credit bureau asking the bureau to cease any further telephone communication with him.160 The employee claimed that he never saw the consumer's letter.161 As a result, the bureau raised the bona fide error defense.162 The office had procedures adopted and would include on-the-job training, telephonic monitoring, supervision and a standardized manual.163 No procedure, however, governed the handling of mail.164 As a result, the court held that the defendant did not maintain procedures reasonably adopted to avoid this error.165

The act also authorizes a debt collector, who has been sued in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, to receive an attorney's fee.166

Conclusion

Attorneys must follow this Act throughout the process of retail collections. Each employee should be made aware of the Act and establish concrete collection practices for each employee to follow. No guidance in interpreting the Act has been given by Congress. The FTC has issued guidelines but these guidelines are not binding. As a result, the courts are left to determine whether attorneys have violated the Act. Unfortunately, for the collection attorney, the price for a violation could be costly.


Endnotes

1 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C.A. §1692, as amended, 100 Stat. 768 (1986).

2 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k.

3 15 U.S.C.A §1692a(6).

4 15 U.S.C.A. §1692a(6) (A)-(C).

5 15 U.S.C.A. §1692a(3).

6 15 U.S.C.A. §1692a(5).

7 In re Scrimpster, 17 B.R. 999, 1010 (N.D.N.Y. 1982).

8 Bank of Boston Intern. v. Arguello Tefel, 664 F.Supp. 1423 (E.D.N.Y 1986).

9 DEBTOR-CREDITOR LAW P4.03(C)(2) at 4- 41. (Matthew Bender 1986). "DEBTOR-CREDITOR" hereinafter.

10 In re Scrimpster, 17 B.R. 999, 1010. (N.D.N.Y 1982).

11 Fed. Reg. Vol. 53 No. 239 50102 (Dec. 13, 1988).

12 834 F.2d 1163 (3rd Cir. 1987).

13 Id. at 1169.

14 Id. at 1166.

15 Id. at 1167-8.

16 Id. at 1168.

17 15 U.S.C.A. §1692a(6). See, Kempf v. Famous Barr Co., 676 F.Supp. 937 (E.D. Mo. 1988).

18 Id.

19 "Kramer, Fair Debt Update: An Explosive Situation", Commercial Law Bulletin July/August 1988.

20 Fed. Register Vol. 53 No. 239 50102 (Dec. 13, 1988).

21 15 U.S.C.A. §1692c(a).

22 15 U.S.C.A. §1692c(a)(1).

23 DEBTOR-CREDITOR, P4.04(A) at 4-46, citing Mezines, FTC Informal Staff Letter (May 22, 1980).

24 Id.

25 Id.

26 Kleczy v. First Federal Credit Control, Inc., 486 N.E2d 204, 207 21 Ohio App.3d 56(1984).

27 15 U.S.C.A. §1692c(a)(3).

28 15 U.S.C.A §1692c(b).

29 Id.

30 631 F.Supp. 1410 (D.Kan. 1986).

31 Id. at 1417.

32 Id. at 1417.

33 Id. at 1417.

34 Id.

35 15 U.S.C.A §1692c(d).

36 S. Rep. No. 382, 45th Cong., 1st Sess. 1, reprinted in (1977) U.S. Code Cong. and Ad. News 1695,1696.

37 West v. Costen, 558 F.Supp. 564, 576 (W.D. Va. 1983) (Collector violated the Act by contacting grandparents and uncle about consumer's debt even if third party brought debt up first).

38 15 U.S.C.A. §1692c(b).

39 Fed. Register Vol. 53 No. 239 50104 (Dec. 13, 1988).

40 15 U.S.C.A. §1692b(4-5).

41 15 U.S.C.A. §1692b(4).

42 15 U.S.C.A. §1692b(5).

43 Rutyna v. Collation Accounts Terminal, 478 F. Supp. 980 (N.D. Ill. 1979) (Collector put business name an envelope and business name indicated it was in the business of collecting debts).

44 15 U.S.C.A. §1692b.

45 15 U.S.C.A. §1692a(7).

46 15 U.S.C.A. §1692b(l).

47 15 U.S.C.A. §1692b(2) & (3).

48 15 U.S.C.A. §1692b(i) & (2).

49 Fed. Register Vol. 53 No. 239 50104 (Dec. 13, 1988).

50 15 U.S.C.A. §1692C(c).

51 15 U.S.C.A. §1692Cc(I-3).

52 Id.

53 15 U.S.C.A. §1692d, §1692e.

54 15 U.S.C.A. §1692d.

55 Bingham v. Collection Bureau, Inc., 505 F.Supp. 864 (D.N.D. 1981).

56 478 F.Supp. 980 (N.D. R 1979).

57 Id. at -981.

58 Id.

59 15 U.S.C.A. §1692c.

60 15 U.S.C.A. §1692e(1-16).

61 15 U.S.C.A. §16-92-e(4).

62 558 F.Supp. 564 (W.D. Va 1983).

63 Id. at 578.

64 Id.

65 Id.

66 677 F.2d 775 (9th Cir. 1982).

67 Id. at 779.

68 Id. at 780.

69 754 F.d 907 (11th Cir 1985).

70 Id. at 909.

71 Id. at 914.

72 Id.

73 15 U.S.C.A. §1692e(4).

74 15 U.S.C.A. §1692f.

75 15 U.S.C.A. §1692f(l).

76 558 F.Supp. 564 (WD. Va. 1983).

77 Id. at 582.

78 Id.

79 Id. A Rhode Island attorney should consider this case, when deciding to sue for treble damages for checks returned for insufficient funds under R.I. Gen. Laws §6-42-1, et seq.

80 15 U.S.C.A. §1692f(1-8).

81 Fed. Register Vol. 53 No. 239 50107.

82 668 F.Supp. 1480 (M.D. Ala. 1987).

83 Id. at 1482.

84 Id.

85 Id.

86 Id. at 1487-88.

87 Id. at 1487.

88 Id.

89 Id. at 1486.

90 Id.

91 DEBTOR-CREDITOR, P4.04(G) at 4-133; R.I. Gen. Laws 6-13.1 -1 et seq.

92 Id.

93 15 U.S.C.A. §1692g(a)(1-5).

94 15 U.S.C.A. §1692g(b).

95 Id.

96 Id.

97 "Q & A on The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act,"Commercial Law Bulletin July/August 1987.

98 Id.

99 15 U.S.C.A. §1692g(b).

100 Id.

101 15 U.S.C.A. §1692g(c).

102 15 U.S.C.A. §1692e(11); Hulshizer v. Global Credit Services, Inc., 728 F.2d 1037 (8th Cir. 1984); but see Pressley v. Capital Credit and Collection Services, Inc., 760 F.2d 922 (9th Cir. 1985) (No need to place notice on every communication because consumer expects information he provides will be used by the collector.)

103 Baker v. G.C. Services Corp., 677 F.2d 775, 780 (9th Cir. 1982); Ost v. Collection Bureau, Inc., 493 F.Supp. 701 (D.N.D. 1980).

104 Id., Query, whether the Act violates the First Amendment in this respect. See, Central Hudson Gas v. Public Services Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980) (A state regulation banned promotional advertising by an electrical utility. The Court held that the regulation violated the First Amendment). But see, U.S. v. Central Adjustment Bureau, Inc., 823 F.2d 880 (5th Cir. 1987) (Deceptive commercial speech does not merit First Amendment protection).

105 493 F.Supp. 701 (D.N.D. 1980).

106 Id. at 702.

107 Id.

108 Id. See also, Riveria v. MAB Collections, Inc., 682 F.Supp. 174 (WD.N.Y 1988) (Placement of validation letter on back side of debt collection letter with no reference to reverse side was a violation of the Act).

109 Id.

110 677 F.2d 775 (9th Cir. 1982).

111 Id.

112 Id.

113 15 U.S.C.A. §1692a(2).

114 Bingham, T and Bonnenberger, G., "Lawyers Beware: Small Change in Collection Act Brings Big Impact." National Law Journal, October 27, 1986 at page 26.

115 Id. See, Hulshizer v. Global Credit Services, Inc., 728 F.2d 1037 (8th Cir. 1984) (Reliance an nonbinding FTC staff opinion does not raise a defense against consumer suit).

116 Id.

117 Id.

118 Id.

119 15 U.S.C.A. §1692c(c)(1-3).

120 Id.

121 Id.

122 15 U.S.C.A. §1692i(b).

123 Id., see also, National Revenue Corporation v. Violet 807 F.2d 285 (1st Cir. 1986) (Credit Bureau may collect debts. Statute which prohibited credit bureau from collecting debt because it would be practicing law violates the interstate commerce provision of the Constitution).

124 RI. Gen. Laws 11-27-2.

125 15 U.S.C.A. §1692n. (An attorney should consider whether the Act when inconsistent with a state rule of Civil Procedure may violate the Constitution.)

126 15 U.S.C.A. §1692i(a) (1-2).

127 Id.

128 Fed. Register Vol. 53 No. 239 50109 (Dec. 13, 1988).

129 Id.

130 15 U.S.C.A. §1692j(a).

131 In re Scrimpster, 17 B.R. 999, 1010-11 (N.D.N.Y 1982).

132 S. Rep. No. 882 95th Cong., 1st Sess. 8 (1977) U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 1699.

133 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k and §1692l.

134 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k.

135 Id.

136 Whatky v. Universal Collection Bureau, Etc., 525 F.Supp. 1204 (N.D. Ga. 1981);West v. Costen, 558 F.Supp. 564 (WD. Va. 1983).

137 525 F.Supp. 1204, 1205 (N.D. Ga. 1981).

138 Id. at 1205.

139 Id. at 1206.

140 Id.

141 558 F.Supp. 564 (WD. Va. 1983).

142 Id. at 577.

143 Id.

144 Id.

145 Id.

146 Sibley v. Fulton DeKalb Collection Servce, 677 F.2d 830, 834 (11 th Cir. 1982).

147 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k(d).

148 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k(a).

149 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k(a)(2)(B).

150 Baker V. G.C. Services Corp., 677 F.2d 775, 780 (9th Cir. 1982).

151 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k(b)(1).

152 Harvey v. United Adjusters, 509 F.Supp. 1218 (D. Or. 1981).

153 Fed. Register Vol. 53 No. 239 50109 (Dec. 13, 1988).

154 Id.

155 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k(c).

156 Baker v. G.C. Services Corp., 677 F.2d 775, 779 (D. Ga. 1982), Rutyna v. Collection Accounts Teminal Inc,, 478 F.Supp. 980, 982 (N.D. Ill 1979).

157 Id.

158 Carrigan v. Central Adjustment Bureau, Inc., 494 F.Supp. 824 (N.D. Ga. 1980).

159 Id.

160 Id. at 825.

161 Id. at 827.

162 Id.

163 Id.

164 Id.

165 Id.

166 15 U.S.C.A. §1692k(a)(3).