UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
March 3, 1992
Mr. John D. Krisor, Jr.
Dear Mr. Krisor:
This is in response to your letter of October 9, 1991 wherein you pose two questions:
1. Section 809(b) of the Act provides that if the consumer disputes the debt or requests identification of the original creditor in writing, the collector must cease collection efforts until he verifies the debt, or identifies the original creditor and mails a response to the consumer. If the consumer's request for verification of the debt was made in accordance with Section 809(b) of the Act, the collector need not supply the documentation but only so long as collection efforts are not resumed. Section 809(b) requires that "the collector cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt . . . and a copy of such verification . . . is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector." In situations contemplated by Section 809(b), the Act imposes the obligation to furnish verification before the collector resumes collection efforts. In the event the collector decides not to pursue the collection efforts, there is no requirement to furnish the documentation of the indebtedness to the consumer. In the event that collection efforts are resumed, the requirement to furnish verification to the consumer prior to resumption of collection remains.
2. A collector may not charge (the consumer) for copies of the documentation of the indebtedness mailed in response to the collector's obligations under Section 809(b). To do so could constitute an imposition of a fee or service charge in violation of Section 808(l) of the Act.(1) The cost of obtaining documentation referred to in your letter is more appropriately a cost of doing business by the collector in the same manner as is postage and telephone charges.
I hope this information will be helpful. The views expressed herein represent an informal staff opinion. As such they are not binding on the Commission. They do, however, reflect the staff's current enforcement position.
Roger J. Fitzpatrick
1. Section 808 of the Act sets out practices that are unfair or unconscionable, including: