People Come First At Our Consumer Rights Law Firm

Should an Oral Dispute of Your Debt be Sufficient

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2014 | Consumer Protection

The Fourth Circuit officially allows consumers to orally dispute
the validity of a debt.  In Clark v. Absolute Collection
Services, Inc., (“Clark”) the Fourth Circuit recently held that the
does not require a consumer’s dispute be in
writing.  Under
Section 1692g(a)(3) of the FDCPA
, the statute requires that
collection agencies send written notice to a consumer which
includes, “…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 debt collector….”  In support of this requirement,
under section 1692g(b), when a consumer “notifies the debt
collector in writing” that the validity of the debt is disputed,
the collector must cease all collection activity until verification
is provided to the alleged debtor.

In Clark, Dana and David Clark incurred a debt at a healthcare
facility in North Carolina.  When the Clarks were unable to
pay off their debt, the facility referred the debt to Absolute
Collection Services, Inc. (“Absolute”) for collection.  In its
effort to collect the debt, Absolute sent two separate collection
letters to the plaintiffs, stating in relevant part, “ALL PORTIONS
WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS….”  Shortly thereafter, the Clarks
filed suit against Absolute alleging its letter was in
violation of the FDCPA
.  The Clarks complaint stated that
by requiring a consumer to submit a written dispute, the collection
agency was in violation of section 1692g(a)(3) of the FDCPA as
there is no requirement notice of a dispute be put in
writing.  Absolute argued to the contrary, that its notice
complied with section 1692g(a)(3) of the FDCPA because it imposes
“an inherent writing requirement” as has previously been adopted by
the Third Circuit.

In conjunction with the Second and Ninth Circuit, the Fourth
Circuit held that the plain language of the FDCPA section
1692g(a)(3) should be enforced as it is written, which is without
the requirement that a consumer’s dispute be in writing.  If
you need additional information on disputing your
, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review.