Have it in writing
There is an old adage about attorneys telling clients not to put anything in writing. The theory being something in writing can come back to hurt you.
Actually, what isn’t in writing might come back to hurt you.
In Utah, a debt collector recently lost a lawsuit in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case because of that.
In the case, Moore v. Express Recovery Service, the Court granted a partial summary judgement for the plaintiffs. A summary judgement is a ruling that a judge makes that says there are no issues in dispute in a civil case and the judge makes a ruling against one of parties, thus taking the case away from the jury.
In this case, the debt collector sent the wrong type of letter out to the plaintiffs. The defendants said the letter was a “bona fide error,” which would allow them to escape liability under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
A bona fide error is where the error occurred “not withstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid such an error.”
In this case, at a deposition, one of the company’s executives testified there were no written materials governing which letters were to be sent out but each new hire was trained on that by someone else at the company.
The court focused on the fact that there were no written policies to train and guide employees.
What they had not written down, came back to haunt them.
If the debt collection company had written policies in place that could have been presented during the law suit, the collection company might not have lost. They did not and they lost.
Does your agency have written procedures in place?
If not, you need them ASAP.
Compliance has a cost. Non-compliance is much more expensive. Plaintiffs’ lawyers look for non-complaint firms for a big payday. Remember, much of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act litigation involves the request for attorney’s fees for the plaintiffs. Attorneys are never cheap and they are really expensive when someone else is paying the bill.
Compliance is your best defense.
Do you need written procedures for your agency?
Call us today and let’s talk about how we can help protect your agency against roving plaintiff’s attorneys.