In a proposed class action recently removed to Pennsylvania federal court, a consumer alleges that Audit Systems Inc. sent her a letter in which it failed to provide proper debt dispute instructions.
Originally filed in December 2018, the suit focuses on a letter received by the plaintiff regarding an outstanding medical bill. According to the complaint, the letter stated, in part:
“If the account is outstanding due to a billing error or other problem, please feel free to contact one of our representatives with questions at 1-800-741-1696 during business hours of Monday through Thursday 8:00am – 9:00pm EST and Friday 8:00am- 7:00pm EST”
The suit argues that the defendant pushed the plaintiff to communicate any possible debt dispute over the phone rather than in writing. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a dispute must be made in writing to obtain verification of the debt, the case explains. Moreover, the complaint notes that the defendant’s phone number and address were listed at the top of the letter, but that only the phone number was printed in bold font.
“Upon reading the Letter, a least sophisticated consumer could be under the mistaken belief that he or she could request validation of the debt by calling Defendant (i.e., disputing the debt orally),” the complaint charges, arguing that the plaintiff was misled as to her rights.