Does Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc. mean you can’t win your case? Not necessarily.

Is my debt collector a “Debt Collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act now?

On June 12, 2017 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a unanimous opinion that has debt buyers rejoicing in debt collection cases. SCOTUS’s holding says the following:

“A company may collect debts that it purchased for its own account, like Santander did here, without triggering the statutory definition in dispute. By defining debt collectors to include those who regularly seek to collect debts “owed . . . another,” the statute’s plain language seems to focus on third party collection agents regularly collecting for a debt owner—not on a debt owner seeking to collect debts for itself.”

So what does that mean for debtors sued by the likes of Midland Funding, LVNV Funding, Santander, or any of the other “debt buyers” out in the real world? In discussing this with my colleagues working on these cases here and in a Southern state, we believe that this decision does not change anything about how we are approaching these cases. Henson dealt with a single extremely narrow issue: when a debt buyer sues to collect is it trying to collect for “another”? The obvious answer is no.

Debt buyers still have two problems in debt collection cases.

First, many debt collectors cannot prove that they own the debt. While they can claim that they own the debt, many debt buyers simply cannot provide the paper trail that proves they own it. That’s why at McMullen Law Office, LLC we demand that they PROVE IT. When they cannot, they are taking an action to collect the debt of another and are a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.

Second, debt buyers buy debt (especially old debt). They then turn around and sue someone for it. That means that the are “in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts.” 15 USC 1692a(6). This “debt collection business” also triggers the statutory definition of “debt collector.” SCOTUS did not address this provision in its decision in Henson.

What does this decision mean for me?

This decision still means that debt collectors are debt collectors. Just like the debt buyers, at McMullen Law Office, LLC it is still BUSINESS AS USUAL.

If you have a case that you want us to review, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone (937-985-2564), email (attymcmullen@gmail.com), or on the contact form on this site.

The information contained in this post are general opinions. Every case requires special review and attention. If you think you may have a case you should contact an attorney for a consultation in your area as soon as possible.