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Are collection attorneys exempt from the FDCPA in Minnesota?

Minneapolis, MN |

I have a collection attorneys office contacting my by phone for a debt. The office is not a licensed collection agency through MN Dept. Of Commerce, however the attorney is licensed to practice law.On three occasions, i have requested documentation
regarding this debt, and they refuse, saying they already sent it. I have never received any thing from their

office. Are they violating the FDCPA? I just want documentation, how can i get it? No one would pay a bill without seeing if the amount due is correct
and who it belongs to.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Absolutely not!

As originally passed, the FDCPA contained a specific exemption for attorneys, but repealed that exemption effective July 1986. Courts have repeatedly found attorneys subject to the FDCPA, even casual collectors. Sometimes collection agencies are exempt from licensure with the MN Dep't of Commerce, but when I sue under the FDCPA, I always plead that the agency is unlicensed (unless they are licensed obviously) and let them prove that they are properly exempt. Agencies in MN must take oral disputes of a debt and send verification accordingly. To do otherwise is a violation.

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2 comments

Jeremy Judson Cobb

Jeremy Judson Cobb

Posted

So there are at least two violations: not sending the original contact letter and refusing to verify your alleged debt. There may be others, such as not being licensed or the tone of the attorney on the phone with you. If you sue and the agency settles, you can get $1,000 statutory damages. Some attorneys deduct the $350 filing fee from this award, so ask about that.

Jeremy Judson Cobb

Jeremy Judson Cobb

Posted

Yes, as Mr. Grafton noted, "lawyers" are excluded from the definition of “collection agency” by operation of Minn. Stat. § 332.32(a), so collection law firms, such as Messerli & Kramer in Minnesota, are exempt from licensure.

Posted

Attorneys are typically exempted from State laws requiring registration by debt collectors because of Separation of Powers issues. Attorneys are regulated by the State Supreme Court and not by the legislature.

That doesn't apply when it comes to federal regulation of collection activities, though where the federal government derives the authority is still a mystery.

The Law Office would be subject to claims under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and it is worth your time to contact an attorney to help you pursue those claims. The statute contains statutory damages on top of any actual damages plus attorney's fees.

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Posted

Typically, lawyers engaging in debt collection are subject to the FDCPA. You should contact a qualified consumer lawyer in your area. Some of the best in the country are in your area.

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Posted

Mr. Grafton's answer is 100% correct. An attorney wouldn't be a licensed debt collector in-and-of themselves in MN. Under how the feds interpret their statutes, the FDCPA would apply to a collection attorney IF that attorney represents a third-party debt collector. You don't mention whether that's the case - does this attorney represent the original creditor or a separate collection agency?

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