Breen v. Howard Lee Schiff P.C.
"[V]erification is only intended to 'eliminate the . . . problem of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect debts which the consumer already has paid,' " pursuant to Chaudhry v. Gallerizzo, a 1998 decision of the 4th Circuit. On Aug. 13, 2010, the defendant law firm, Howard Lee Schiff P.C., allegedly asked the plaintiff, Deborah Breen, to pay credit card debt. On September 3, the plaintiff requested that the defendant cease and desist collection activity, until it provided proof of debt. On September 13, the law firm forwarded an account statement that allegedly indicated the plaintiff owed $9,070 on a Discover Card account. On December 13, the law firm commenced suit. The plaintiff sued the law firm, alleging it failed to supply adequate proof of the alleged debt, it misrepresented the status of the debt and it threatened legal action, in violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The court found that the defendant law firm adequately verified the plaintiff's debt when it forwarded a copy of the Discover Card account statement on Sept. 13, 2010. The Discover Card account statement indicated that the law firm had not contacted the wrong individual, as a result of mistaken identity, or attempted to collect a debt that previously had been paid. The defendant law firm timely verified the debt. It did not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, when it filed suit to collect the debt. The court granted the law firm's motion for judgment on the plaintiff's FDCPA counts. The plaintiff also alleged that Discover Bank violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Discover Bank argued that there is no private cause of action under §§1681m and 1681s-2(a) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The court found that no private right of action exists for Discover Bank's alleged violations of 15 United States Code §§1681m and 1681s-2(a). The plaintiff's complaint also failed to adequately allege a §1681s-2(b) claim, because she did not allege that credit reporting agencies contacted Discover Bank and that Discover Bank failed to investigate. The court granted the defendants' motions for judgment.