New appellate court decision on FDCPA

Deciding a case under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Third Circuit held this week that debt collectors bear the burden of proving that their contacts with third parties fall under an exception to a ban on such contact when pursuing repayment from consumers. The court summarized the case this way:

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act … , a debt collector is liable to a consumer for contacting third parties in pursuit of that consumer’s debt unless the communication falls under a statutory exception. One of those exceptions covers communication with a third party “for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer” but, even then, prohibits more than one such contact “unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692b. In this appeal following a jury verdict and judgment entered against a debt collector for repeated contact with third parties, we consider a matter of first impression among the Courts of Appeals: whether the burden in such a case is on the debt collector to prove or the consumer to disprove that the challenged third-party communications fit within § 1692b’s exception for acquisition of location information. We conclude that the debt collector bears that burden[.]

The court's opinion is here.

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