• DYE CULIK PC | Consumer Protection Division

Burden is on Debt Collectors to Prove Third-Party Contacts are Permissible under the Fair Debt Colle


But whose burden is it to prove that the debt collector’s contacts were permissible? A federal court of appeals has held that the burden is on the debt collector.

In this case, representatives of the mortgage servicer Green Tree repeatedly contacted a consumer’s daughter and neighbors. The consumer sued Green Tree under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

At trial, the judge instructed the jury that the burden was on the debt collector to prove that the third-party contacts did not violate the FDCPA. The consumer won, and the debt collector appealed, claiming that the consumer’s burden was to disprove that the contacts were permissible.

The appeals court agreed with the trial court, and held that the burden is still on the debt collector. Going forward, applying the rationale for this decision, any time a debt collector contacts a third party it should have the obligation to be able to prove that the contact was permissible, rather than the consumer having to prove that it was not permissible.

Link to decision: Evankavitch v. Green Tree Servicing

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