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Acosta v. Credit Bureau of Napa County

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

April 29, 2015

Diana Acosta, Plaintiff,
v.
Credit Bureau of Napa County, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN ROBERT BLAKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This is a purported class action brought under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCA”). Plaintiff Diana Acosta alleges that Defendant Credit Bureau of Napa County, an alleged debt collector under the FDCPA, violated the statute when it sent her a debt collection letter that included a $14.95 processing fee for payments made by credit card.

Defendant has moved to dismiss [26], arguing that the $14.95 fee is lawful under the FDCPA. This Court denies the motion.

I. Legal Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), this Court must construe the Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, accept as true all well-pleaded facts and draw reasonable inferences in their favor. Yeftich v. Navistar, Inc., 722 F.3d 911, 915 (7th Cir. 2013); Long v. Shorebank Development Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). Statements of law, however, need not be accepted as true. Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915. Rule 12(b)(6) limits this Court’s consideration to “allegations set forth in the complaint itself, documents that are attached to the complaint, documents that are central to the complaint and are referred to in it, and information that is properly subject to judicial notice.” Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).

To survive Defendant’s motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the Complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

II. Facts[1]

On or about September 8, 2014, Defendant, on behalf of its client, sent Plaintiff a letter to collect a $524.59 debt. Complaint ¶¶ 11-12; 9/8/14 Letter [1-1]. The letter listed “6 easy payment options, ” including: “Pay via Credit Card. ($14.95 Chase Receivables processing fee where applicable).” 9/8/14 Letter [1-1]; see also Complaint ¶ 12. The fee also is shown on Defendant’s online payment center. Chase Payment Center Screenshot [1-2]. Four of the five other payment options in the debt collection letter do not include a processing fee. See 9/8/14 Letter [1-1].

Plaintiff does not dispute that she owed the $524.59 debt. Rather, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant is a “debt collector” under the FDCPA, see Complaint ¶ 8, and, on behalf of herself and a putative class, brings a single count for violation of the FDCPA. Plaintiff specifically alleges that Defendant violated Sections 1692e, 1692e(2), 1692e(10), 1692f and 1692f(1) of the FDCPA because Defendant expressly or tacitly misrepresented that the $14.95 credit card processing fee could lawfully be charged. Complaint ¶¶ 26-28.

III. Analysis

A. Section 1692f Claims

Section 1692f prohibits debt collectors from using “unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.” The statute supplies eight, non-exhaustive examples of unfair or unconscionable conduct under Section 1692f, including:

(1) The collection of any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.

15 U.S.C. § 1692f(1); see also Turner v. J.V.D.B. & Associates, Inc., 330 F.3d 991, ...


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