(CN) – The 11th Circuit rejected a debt collector’s claim that it had to violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to comply with it. The court said the argument “offers up much the same logic” as a military officer’s often-repeated statement about Vietnam, “we had to destroy the village to save it.”
Niagara Credit Solutions left at least two “urgent” messages on Brenda Edwards’ answering machine without revealing that it was a collection agency, trying to collect money owed to the Consumer Shopping Network.
The collection agency claimed that it didn’t disclose the information for fear of violating another FDCPA provision, which bars collection agencies from discussing the debt to third parties.
“It was concerned that answering machine messages might be played by or within the hearing of a family member or roommate, who would then know that a collection agency was calling the debtor,” Judge Carnes explained.
But the Atlanta-based federal appeals court rejected this defense to Edwards’ lawsuit.
“It was not reasonable for Niagara to violate (one provision) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act with every message it left in order to avoid the possibility that some of those messages might lead to a violation of (another),” Carnes concluded.