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Posts published by “Donald Maurice”

Donald Maurice provides counsel to the financial services industry, successfully litigating matters in the state and federal courts in individual and class actions. He has successfully argued before the Third, Fourth and Eighth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals, and has represented the financial services industry before several courts including as counsel for amicus curiae before the United States Supreme Court. He counsels clients in regulatory actions before the CFPB, and other federal and state regulators and in the development and testing of debt collection compliance systems. Don is peer-rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, the worldwide guide to lawyers. In addition to being a frequent speaker and author on consumer financial services law, he serves as outside counsel to RMA International, on the governing Board of Regents of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers and on the Governing Committee of the Conference on Consumer Finance Law. From 2014 to 2017, he chaired the ABA's Bankruptcy and Debt Collection Subcommittee. For more information, see https://mauricewutscher.com/attorneys/donald-maurice/

Gov’t Enforcement Actions Against CFS Industry Heating Up

As Fall brings a chill to early morning weather, a string of federal agency enforcement actions are supplying a lot of unwanted heat for the consumer financial services industry. Today, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it has entered into a Consent Order with Equifax Information Services LLC, over charges that it had allegedly improperly sold lists of consumers who were late on their mortgage payments. The Consent Order requires Equifax to pay nearly $393,000 to the FTC. In a separate action, an Equifax customer will pay the FTC civil penalties of $1.2 million under a Consent Order concerning its alleged use of the same lists…

New York Federal Court Strikes Down NYC Regulation of Attorneys Engaged in Debt Collection

A City of New York regulation that sought to regulate attorneys who practiced debt collection law, was struck down Wednesday by a Federal Court sitting in the Eastern District of New York because it violated New York’s Constitutional separation of powers. In Eric Berman, P.C. v.  City of New York the court found that New York City had exceeded its authority under New York law by enacting a regulation which dictated how licensed New York attorneys may provided debt collection legal services. The regulation attempted to distinguish attorneys who regularly send debt collection letters — what it described as attorneys who “regularly…

Facebook: Use it to Like a Person, Don’t Use it for Service of Process

As reported in today’s New York Law Journal, a Federal Court Judge sitting in the Southern District of New York recently denied a request by an affiliate of Chase Bank to serve process through a party’s Facebook profile. In Fortunato v. Chase Bank USA, N.A., No. 11-cv-06608-JFK (S.D.N.Y. June 7, 2012), Chase was sued under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and state law claims arising from a credit card account plaintiff alleged was created without her authorization. Chase Bank impleaded the plaintiff’s estranged daughter, alleging she created the credit card debt using the plaintiff’s personal information. Despite several attempts, Chase…

Fee Order Admonishes Plaintiff’s Firm for Claiming “Cut & Paste” Work as Original – Slices Fee Request 75%, Warns of Future Sanctions

While the use of form pleadings is not unusual, it becomes dicey when attorneys seek fees from their use of forms as “original work.” But when you use a fee petition that itself is a form pleading and claim it too is “original work,” you are going to draw the ire of several federal district court judges in the Third Circuit. Yesterday, one plaintiff’s firm was front and center for a lesson on the use and abuse of form pleadings, drawing an admonishment from a Federal Judge sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that “it may not continue with…

NJ Ethics Opinion Deems Sending Collection Letters as the Practice of Law

When a law firm uses its letterhead to collect debt for its client, it “cannot disclaim the fact that he or she is engaging in the practice of law when using law firm letterhead,” states a recent joint opinion by the New Jersey Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law and the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics. 1 Rejects Lawyers’ Use of Greco Disclaimers The Opinion directly contradicts the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Greco v. Trauner, Cohen & Thomas, LLP.2 In Greco, the court explained that: attorneys can participate in debt collection in any number of ways,…

FTC Suggests Use of Confusing Language in Debt Collection Letters

Prelude: In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission released a study entitled “Repairing A Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration.” What follows is part two of a report on their latest repair efforts. In a February blog post, I explored the Federal Trade Commission’s press release equating a potential defense (the expiration of a limitations period) with a legal right. I’m headed back to that same press release to consider another questionable call from the FTC’s efforts to “repair a broken system.” So today, here is Chapter Two: “How to Confuse People Into Believing You Are Furnishing Negative Credit Information Concerning Them.”…

Prof. Chris Peterson Joins the CFPB

As reported today in the Consumer Law and Policy Blog, University of Utah Law Professor Christopher L. Peterson joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a Senior Counsel for Enforcement Strategy. Although Professor Peterson and I do not see eye to eye on many issues, over the past decade his scholarly works have impacted consumer financial services law. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Chris speak on consumer financial services law, do so. You might not like what you hear, but he knows how to make his point in a way that captures your attention.

Section 1692g Written Dispute that also Contains a Cease and Desist Does Not Prohibit a Debt Collector From Sending Verification

Sending verification in response to a consumer’s written demand for verification under 15 U.S.C. § 1692g, which also contains a cease and desist demand, does not violate § 1692c under a holding from the Western District of New York in Marino v. HoganWillig, PLLC, 11-cv-453 (W.D. NY April 24, 2012). The Court refused to read § 1692c(c) to prohibit sending a consumer § 1692g(b) validation because it would place a debt collector “into a frozen state where it could not seek to collect the debt because compliance with Section 1692g(b) would violate Section 1692c(c).” The court cited the unpublished opinion in Recker…

Star Ledger (NJ): NJ Gov Chris Christie’s brash words on N.J. Supreme Court may be undermining state’s judicial branch

Chris Christie came into office on a promise to take the NJ Supreme Court off “its pedestal” and place it on a equal footing with the legislative and executive branches. The Star Ledger reports on the devisiveness that has permeated relations between NJ’s Governor and the Courts and its impact upon NJ’s legal system. You can read the article here.

CFPB Plans to Regulate The Practice of Law

Yesterday the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) released its proposed rule “Defining Larger Participants in Certain Consumer Financial Product and Service Market.” The proposed rule calls for the CFPB to regulate certain attorneys to protect the public welfare. Why? Becuase, Collection attorneys and law firms may collect through litigation (i.e., filing suit against consumers to collect debt). How dare those attorneys file complaints and litigate lawsuits. You can bet I’ll have a little more on the topic in a few days.  

Missouri Supreme Court – Because Chain of Title Deficient, Assignee lacked Standing to Sue on Debt

Last month the Missouri Supreme Court handed down a decision concerning a failure of proof in establishing chain of title on assignment of debt. The decision itself is unremarkable and you can read it here CACH v. Askew. The problem was simple – no testimony was proffered concerning the account being included in the prior assignee’s bill of sale, rather the trial court inferred the account was included in a “Schedule A” which should have been, but was not, attached to the prior assignee’s bill of sale. A few years back I participated in a teleconference for ACA International explaining bill…