by Jeff Sovern
The decision in Henson v. Santander is here. A debt buyer could still qualify as a debt collector under the FDCPA if debt collection is the "principal purpose" of its business, under 1692a(6), but if collections is not the principal purpose of its business, as is true of Santander, it will not be subject to the FDCPA under Henson. I wonder if we will see debt buyers merge with other businesses so collection becomes only a part of their business, and they can evade the FDCPA. As a policy matter, it is difficult to justify treating debt buyers differently from debt collectors, and when Congress becomes more protective of consumers, we might see a legislative fix to this problem. But Congress probably did not anticipate the debt buying industry back in 1977 when it wrote the law, and so didn't address debt buyers in the text of the statute. The decision was unanimous, and was Justice Gorsuch's first decision for the Court. His first sentence: "Disruptive dinnertime calls, downright deceit, and more besides drew Congress’s eye to the debt collection industry." Evidently, he likes alliteration.