Preston v. Midland Credit Management
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from “using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by use of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business.” The 7th Circuit invited the Bureau to file an amicus brief on (1) whether there is a benign language exception to this prohibition and, if so, (2) whether the phrase “TIME SENSITIVE DOCUMENT” falls within that exception as a matter of law. In its amicus brief, the Bureau argued that there is no benign language exception. The Bureau clarified, however, that the FDCPA permits debt collectors to include language or symbols on an envelope that facilitate making “use of the mails,” such as a USPS barcode. The Bureau further argued that if the Court did adopt a benign language exception, then whether “TIME SENSITIVE DOCUMENT” would fall within that exception would be a question of fact.