7th Circuit Affirms Use of "Current Balance" in Collection Letter

On September 25, 2019, a unanimous panel of the Seventh Circuit affirmed that a collector’s use of the term “current balance” in a collection letter adequately states the “amount of the debt” as required by Section 1692g of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In Koehn v. Delta Outsource Group, the plaintiff alleged that the term “current” balance would lead the least sophisticated consumer to believe that the debt was subject to change (e.g., due to additional interest and fees). Delta countered Plaintiff’s position arguing that the unsophisticated consumer would not interpret the phrase “current balance” to mean anything other than indicating the amount due.

The Seventh Circuit rejected Plaintiff’s theory finding: “Dunning letters can comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act without answering all possible questions about the future. A lawyer’s ability to identify a question that a dunning letter does not expressly answer (“Is it possible the balance might increase?”) does not show the letter is misleading, even if a speculative guess to answer the question might be wrong.”

Messer Strickler commends Delta for its fight and contribution to positive industry case law!