intended to turn Pettit's name over to the Credit Index if she
did not pay. (Defendants' 12(m) ¶¶ 40-41.) Plaintiff argues that
the reference to the NDDF falsely indicates that serious
consequences will result from not paying. In this Court's view,
however, RMCB's statements are not false; the letter correctly
states the risk faced by debtors from having their names placed
on the list.
The actual text of that portion of the letter states: "Remit
the $20.70 owed and keep Crafting and Decorating Made Simple from
putting your name on the National Delinquent Debtor File, which
could affect your ability to obtain certain types of credit with
direct marketing companies." (Collection Letter, Ex. A to
Plaintiffs Complaint) (emphasis added). The letter clearly states
that only certain types of credit with direct marketing companies
are affected by being on the list. This court agrees with its
colleague, Judge Plunkett, who considered similar language
recently and observed, "Even an unsophisticated consumer knows
the difference between a mail order [or direct marketing]
company, on the one hand, and banks, credit card companies,
mortgage companies and car dealerships, on the other." Arango v.
GC Services, LP., No. 97 C 7912, 1999 WL 58550, *3 (N.D.Ill.
February 3, 1999). See Young v. Meyer & Njus, 953 F. Supp. 238,
240 (N.D.Ill. 1997) ("the Court need not consider the debtor to
be a fool or an idiot.") On the other hand, the letter accurately
states that relatively serious consequences may flow from having
one's name on the list: if the consumer prefers to order goods
through the mail, he or she will not receive information about
buying opportunities, (Defendants' 12(m) ¶ 29), or a mail order
company may refuse to fill an order. (Id. ¶¶ 35-36.)
Plaintiff next argues that the reference to the National
Delinquent Debtor File falsely implies that the consumers name
will be referred to a credit bureau. The only case Pettit cites
(and quotes extensively) to support this contention is Trull v.
GC Services Ltd. Partnership, 961 F. Supp. 1199 (N.D.Ill. 1997).
In Trull, the collection letter in question informed the debtor
that "[t]his is the last effort I will be making to settle your
account. . . . [y]our name will be retained as part of our
records along with others who, despite their good name and
reputation, have shirked their payment responsibility." Id. at
1202. The letter continued, "We are anxious to clear your record
as well as ours." Id. The letter then notified the recipient that
"your account has been transferred from BMG Music Service to GC
Services' Agency Master Debtor File," in capital letters. Id. The
court found that an unsophisticated consumer could read those
statements as implying "that GC operates a consumer reporting
agency that assembles consumer credit information for the purpose
of furnishing consumer reports to third parties." Id. at 1203.
The Trull case is distinguishable because the NDDF actually is
an agency that assembles information to distribute to third
parties, whereas GC Services, the defendant in Trull, was not a
consumer reporting agency. The RMCB letter states explicitly that
it will only affect "certain types of credit with direct
marketing companies." (Collection Letter, Ex. A to Plaintiff's
Complaint.) This statement is technically accurate and, as noted
earlier, is not confusing even to an unsophisticated consumer.
Nor is the court troubled by Plaintiff's assertion that RMCB
falsely insinuates that the debtor's name will be turned over to
a credit bureau. As the Defendant points out, the NDDF is a
consumer reporting agency, as defined under 15 U.S.C. § 1681f,
and does perform the same functions as a credit bureau.
There is, therefore, nothing improper about this reference in the
Finally, Plaintiff argues that the use of the National
Delinquent Debtors File conveys the false impression that it is
affiliated with the U.S. Government.*fn4 Pettit
again cites cases that are distinguishable from the instant
case or that do not support her contention. For example, in
Gammon, on, a collection letter stated, "We provided the systems
used by a major branch of the federal government and various
state governments to collect delinquent taxes. . . . You must
surely know the problems you will face later if you do not pay."
27 F.3d at 1255. The court held that the collection agency
"appears to have implied that its development of governmental
"systems' for the collection of delinquent taxes would enable it
to cause "problems' for the delinquent debtor." Id. at 1258. The
letter "may have violated the provisions of § 1692e" by
leading an unsophisticated consumer . . . [to] reasonably believe
that his future "problems' would be with "a major branch of the
federal government' because of GC Services' development of the
government's "systems.'" Id. See Slough v. Federal Trade Comm'n.,
396 F.2d 870 (5th Cir. 1968) (debt collector used the name "State
Credit Control Board" and deceptive practices); Adams v. First
Federal Credit Control, Inc., No. 91 CV 2467, 1992 WV 131121
(N.D.Ohio May 21, 1992) (using the name "First Federal Credit
Control" plus a letterhead that resembled the seal of the United
States and a bald eagle violated the FDCPA); Bennett v. Federal
Trade Comm'n., 200 F.2d 362 (D.C.Cir. 1952) (using name "National
Service Bureau, Washington, D.C." as return address); Floersheim.
v. Federal Trade Comm'n., 411 F.2d 874 (9th Cir. 1969) (using
Washington, D.C. as return address and legal type to simulate
government documents exploited consumers' assumption that
documents from Washington, D.C. are from the United States
In this case, besides the word "national," nothing in the
letter explicitly or implicitly indicates that the data base is
affiliated with the government. "National" indicates that the
data base has information from all fifty states; even an
unsophisticated consumer is not likely to assume that the
government must be involved in a private attempt to collect a
private debt when the letter does not refer explicitly or
implicitly to the government. Plaintiff has not supported her
contention through either facts or case law.
D. RMCB's use of the name "Retrieval Masters Creditors Bureau"
does not violate the FDCPA
Pettit claims that the name "Retrieval Masters Creditors
Bureau" is misleading and deceptive because it gives the false
impression that the company is a credit bureau. Under the FDCPA,
"[t]he use of any false representation or deceptive means to
collect or attempt to collect any debt . . ." is prohibited.
15 U.S.C. § 1692e(10). The FDCPA also forbids "[t]he false
representation or implication that a debt collector operates or
is employed by a consumer reporting agency. . . ."
15 U.S.C. § 1692e(16).