June 5, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civil Action No.
2-15-cv-05834) District Judge: Honorable J. Curtis Joyner
M. Helbing (Argued) Helbing Law, LLC Counsel for Appellant.
Michael J. Palumbo Anthony J. Gingo Gingo Palumbo Law Group
Matthew R. Rosenkoff Taylor English Duma LLP Counsel for
Epelbaum John J. Jacko, III (Argued) Fellheimer & Eichen
Counsel for Appellee.
Sabatini Brett Freeman Sabatini Law Firm Daniel A. Edelman
Francis Greene Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin LLC
Counsel for Amicus Appellee.
Before: AMBRO, JORDAN, and VANASKIE, Circuit Judges.
would gladly pay Tuesday for a hamburger today. Of course,
not all of those who fall into debt make payments timely, and
debt collection has become a professional trade. The Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act (the "FDCPA" or
"Act"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq.,
regulates their efforts. Under it, debt collectors are
prohibited from engaging in deceptive, abusive, or otherwise
unfair practices to collect debts. When these practices
occur, the Act gives debtors a private right of action to
seek recourse, with the possibility of receiving statutory
does not apply, however, to all entities who collect debts;
only those whose principal purpose is the collection of any
debts, and those who regularly collect debts owed another are
subject to its proscriptions. Those entities whose principal
business is to collect the defaulted debts they purchase seek
to avoid the Act's reach. We believe such an entity is
what it is-a debt collector. If so, the Act applies.
"Debt Collectors" Under the Fair Debt Collection
FDCPA is a "remedial legislation" aimed, as already
noted, "to eliminate abusive debt collection practices
by debt collectors." Kaymark v. Bank of Am.,
N.A., 783 F.3d 168, 174 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting §
1692(e); Caprio v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Grp.,
LLC, 709 F.3d 142, 148 (3d Cir. 2013)). Importantly, it
applies only to "debt collectors," Pollice v.
Nat'l Tax Funding, L.P., 225 F.3d 379, 403 (3d Cir.
2000), defined as any person: (1) "who uses any
instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any
business the principal purpose of which is the collection of
any debts" (the "principal purpose"
definition); or (2) "who regularly collects or attempts
to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or
asserted to be owed or due another" (the "regularly
collects for another," or "regularly
collects," definition). § 1692a(6). Specifically
excluded from the definition's reach are, in relevant
part, a creditor's officers and employees collecting
debts for the creditor, a company collecting debts only for
its non-debt-collector sister company, an entity collecting a
debt it originated, and one collecting a debt it obtained
that was not in default at the time of purchase. §
1692a(6)(A), (B), (F).
opposed to 'debt collectors'- generally are not
subject to the [Act]." Pollice, 225 F.3d at
403. A "creditor" is any person: (1) "who
offers or extends credit creating a debt[;] or" (2)
"to whom a debt is owed." § 1692a(4). Excluded
is "any person to the extent that he receives an
assignment or transfer of a debt in default solely for the
purpose of facilitating collection of such debt for
another." Id. Notably, the Act, by its terms,
contemplates that an entity may be both a debt collector and
a creditor, stating that "debt collector" also
includes "any creditor who, in the process of collecting
his own debts, uses any name other than his own which would
indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to
collect such debts." § 1692a(6).
landscape of debt collection has changed since the
FDCPA's enactment in 1977, and not all those who collect
debt look like the classic "repo man." The Federal
Trade Commission reported in 2009 that "[t]he most
significant change in the debt collection business in recent
years has been the advent and growth of debt buying."
Federal Trade Commission, Collecting Consumer Debts: The
Challenges of Change - A Workshop Report 13 (2009). No longer
do creditors simply hire debt collectors to serve their named
role; rather, with increased frequency creditors sell debt to
purchasers, who may again resell the debt, hire outside debt
collectors to undertake collection efforts, or attempt to
collect on their own. See Federal Trade Commission,
The Structure and Practices of the Debt Buying Industry 1