Bingham Farms, Michigan (PressExposure) December 22, 2009 -- FDCPA Attorney Brian P Parker has filed a Federal Class Action against Consumers Energy and Midwestern Audit Services Inc. He is now suing both companies as debt collectors for not providing Consumer customers with the FDCPA and Michigan right to dispute their debts.
Brian P Parker quotes, "The uniqueness of the case is that we are citing the "false name exception" to the general rule that creditors like Consumers Energy are not debt collectors". He adds, Creditors like Consumers Energy are using debt collectors like Midwestern Audit to collect their utility bills and avoiding the Federal Debt Collection Protection Act in doing it."
Consumers Energy notifies its new customers of old bills from other households, relatives, friends or ex- spouses by notifying the new account holder through a letter from a separate collection agency that they are transferring the old bill to the new bill within the next ten days. If the new bill that now contains someone else's bill is not paid by the new customer, the new customer faces a shut off of his utilities.
"It is very clever", admits Brian P Parker "The letter that is sent by a collection agency has none of the FDCPA and Michigan Collection Act (MOC) provisions regarding a debtors rights to dispute the bill." "The collection agency like Midwestern says they are not acting as a collection agency and that they are only communicating the Consumers' transfer notification." Both organizations are trying to avoid providing people their rights under both Federal and Michigan law to dispute the old debt placed on their new account.
The collection agency makes it appear very legal and casual, "Consumers Energy controls everything." Normally, Consumers Energy, as a creditor under the FDCPA cannot be prosecuted for a violation of the FDCPA. However, the FDCPA is still there for the consumer even if Consumers and Midwestern are not. Parker recognizes the help from Federal law in calling their bluff, "Under the 'false name exception' to the FDCPA, if a creditor controls the collection agency it uses as is the case in the class action here, it is a collection agency under the act and people must be told of their dispute rights in the letter Consumers is sending."
"If you have a old Consumer's bill being forced on you by Midwestern or any other debt collection agency, let us know right away," urges Parker.