A recent article titled “Judge holds fines aren’t debts under federal collection law,” published in the Law Bulletin on April 18 discussed a federal lawsuit in which our firm was the defendant. The article may give readers an impression that because the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act does not apply to collecting fines for the city of Chicago, our firm violates the act with impunity as to such cases. This is not true.
We follow the requirements of the FDCPA in all collection matters to the best of our ability. Our firm would have been successful on the merits of the claims against us had the matter proceeded to trial.
We continue to advocate for the ethical collection of debt. This includes following the FDCPA even when it is not applicable to a class of claims similar to fines or subrogation. It is not hard to follow the act as written (although some nuanced interpretations by the courts may be problematic).
Some attorneys who do not collect consumer debt are afraid to follow the FDCPA for fear that if they do and they make a mistake, they will be subject to its penalties. We see this case standing for the proposition that attorneys will not subject themselves to the act if they attempt to comply in cases where it is not necessary to do so. Therefore, we hope the holding in the case will encourage additional compliance in all areas of legal debt collection.
Robert G. Markoff
Markoff & Krasny