Collection Law Firm Which Served Consumer Represented by Attorney Does Not Qualify For FDCPA Bona Fide Error Defense

A Federal District Court ruling on March 24, 2017 barred a debt collection law firm from raising the bona fide error defense when it served legal documents on a consumer whose attorney had not filed a notice of representation with the court.  The case is Holcomb v. Freedman Anselmo Lindberg, LLC (U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D. IL Case # 15 C 1129).  The consumer’s attorney had written a letter informing the debt collection law firm that he represented the consumer; appeared twice in court on behalf of the consumer; and was noted in the debt collection law firm’s notes as the consumer’s attorney. The court held that the debt collection law firm knew the consumer was represented by an attorney and intentionally sent the court filings to the consumer. 

This decision shows how important it is for collectors to have systems in place to flag the accounts of consumers represented by attorneys and to thereafter only communicate with those consumer's attorneys.  For more information or to discuss FDCPA compliance contact Joe Messer at (312) 334-3440 or jmesser@messerstrickler.com