Federal and state laws exist to protect people in debt from predatory and harassing behavior from banks, creditors, collection agencies, and other entities that exist to collect on debt. These laws aim to protect personal information and privacy, which has recently been under attack by a seemingly innocent mark conspicuously hidden behind an envelope’s clear window.
In a recent case litigated by attorney Jibrael S. Hindi in South Florida, the controversial presence of a QR or “quick response” barcode printed on a collection letter was at the heart of the conflict. Plaintiff Aviyawna Michael received a collection letter from collection agency Hovg, LLC that allegedly violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). The reason for the allegation was that a QR code could be viewed without even opening the envelope the letter came in, which contained access to sensitive personal information.
Per the federal FDCPA and the state FCCPA, entities that work in collecting debt are prohibited from using certain types of abusive, deceptive, and misleading strategies to collect on that debt. The FDCPA lists over two hundred actions that cannot be taken, including talking to third parties about your debt, calling you at work, or otherwise harassing, threatening, or misleading you in attempts to coerce you into paying the debt. Florida’s FCCPA enacts additional protections, which extends liability of wrongdoing from debt collectors to the original creditors.
In Michael v. HOVG, LLC District Court Judge Beth Bloom ruled that Michael had standing to allege that Hovg, LLC violated both the FDCPA and the FCCPA when it sent him the letter inside the windowed envelope. This means that the plaintiff met all the requirements to bring a case against Hovg, including suffering “an injury in fact.”
This case, successfully litigated by attorney Jibrael S. Hindi of The Law Offices of Jibrael S. Hindi, a law firm focusing on debt collection harassment cases, cements the importance of collection agencies taking the extra time to ensure their practices strictly adhere to federal and state standards when it comes to collecting debt. There is a very real risk of breaking the law if collection letters contain any elements that are not explicitly required by these state and federal protections.
Violations of the FDCPA can bring up to $1000. FDCPA attorneys like Jibrael and his team will be happy to discuss your case for free. Call 1-844-JIBRAEL if you have been targeted for privacy invasions by a collection agency. You do not pay a dime until Jibrael wins your case!