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What is a "Communication" Under the FDCPA?
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Author:  admin [ Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:34 am ]
Post subject:  What is a "Communication" Under the FDCPA?

Certain substantive prohibitions of the FDCPA apply to "communications." A "communication" is defined as "the conveying of information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium." 15 U.S.C. 1692a(2). Usually this takes the form of dunning letters, telephone calls, or telegrams. However, the term is broadly and literally construed to encompass other forms of conveying information as well. Tolentino v. Friedman, 46 F.3d 645 (7th Cir. 1995) (debt collector sent consumers a copy of the summons and complaint prior to service accompanied by an "IMPORTANT NOTICE" discussing the consequences of filing bankruptcy).

The Eleventh Circuit has held that a legal action is not an "initial communication" within the meaning of the FDCPA. Vega v. McKay, 351 F.3d 1334 (11th Cir. 2003). On the other hand, th Seventh Circuit en banc has held that filing of a lawsuit is an "initial communication." Thomas v. Law Offices of Simpson & Cybak, 392 F.3d 914 (7th Cir. 2004).

There is a split among the Circuits as to whether a legal pleading is a communication within the FDCPA. Vega v. McKay, 351 F.3d 1334 (11th Cir. 2003). The Eleventh Circuit held that filing of a complaint to collect a debt was not an initial communication. In a later decision, the Seventh Circuit En Banc held that such a complaint was a communication within the coverage of the FDCPA. Thomas v. Law Firm of Simpson & Cybak, 392 F.3d 914 (7th Cir. 2004). Also, see: Frey v. Gangwish, 970 F.2d 1516 (6th Cir. 1992); Goldman v. Cohen, 2004 WestLaw 2937793 (U.S.D.C. S.D. N.Y. 2004).

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