6th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules FDCPA Applies to Foreclosures

OPINION APPLIES TO BOTH JUDICIAL AND NON-JUDICIAL STATES

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EDITOR’S ANALYSIS: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) 15 USC Sec 1692, has been treated as “off-limits” in mortgage foreclosure actions. The principal thrust of the action is to protect consumers from unfair practices and to prevent debtors from paying a “collector” and finding out they still owe the money because the “collector” was a sham operation. The opinion of many trial judges based upon some appellate decisions was that the FDCPA expressly excluded foreclosure actions.

In this Opinion, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, using common sense and basic rules of statutory construction, came to the opposite opinion and it would appear that the opinion will be followed in most states. As it is, anecdotal evidence from Connecticut and other states suggests that trial judges were questioning the legal theory that foreclosures were not about the collection of money.

“Chase and RACJ fraudulently concealed the fact that Fannie Mae owned the loan, and that the original note was not lost or destroyed and was being held by a custodian for Fannie Mae’s benefit. The complaint named plaintiff Lawrence Glazer as someone possibly having an interest in the Klie property, and RACJ served Glazer with process. Glazer answered and asserted defenses. He also notified RACJ that he disputed the debt and requested verification. RACJ refused to verify the amount of the debt or its true owner.”

DENY AND DISCOVER: It is the failure to verify the very thing that lies at the heart of foreclosure defense, nullification of instrument aimed at the mortgage and note, that makes this opinion so powerful. BY re fusing to verify the true owner or the amount of the debt, RACJ was attempting to get around normal due process — that the charges against the debtor be clearly stated and verified. Allowing violations of the FDCPA under the mistaken notion that foreclosure is not about the collection of money allows the collector to finesse the issue of who owns the loan and how much is due. This opens up discovery against the Master Servicer, Subservicer, investment banker, Trustee of the Trust and the trust itself to determine if the trust even exists.

“we hold that mortgage foreclosure is debt collection under the Act. Lawyers who meet the general definition of a “debt collector” must comply with the FDCPA when engaged in mortgage foreclosure. And a lawyer can satisfy that definition if his principal business purpose is mortgage foreclosure or if he “regularly” performs this function. In this case, the district court held that RACJ was not engaged in debt collection when it sought to foreclose on the Klie property. That decision was erroneous, and the judgment must be reversed.7″

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