Eighteen years ago, the Seventh Circuit crafted “safe harbor” language which, if used, shielded debt collectors from liability under 15 U.S.C. § 1692g. A recent decision, Boucher v. Fin. Sys. of Green Bay, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1094 (7th Cir. 2018), now calls that safe harbor language into question and subjects collectors to liability under another section of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), § 1692e, for use of the language the court itself drafted.
Section 1692g requires debt collectors to disclose, among other information, the “amount of the debt” a consumer owes. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(1). This requirement is particularly onerous, as many debts are subject to fees, interest, and other charges which can increase the amount of the debt owed on a daily basis.