UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
August 11, 1992
D. A. Burwell
Dear Mr. Burwell:
Thank you for your letter concerning the mailing envelope used by Consolidated Collection Company ("CCC"), a collection agency. Section 807(1) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. 1692e(1), prohibits
Although the CCC envelope that you enclosed does not represent that CCC is "vouched for or bonded by" the United States or any state, whether the envelope implies an "affiliation" with the United States or one of the states is a slightly more difficult issue. Printed on the envelope are phrases similar to -- or perhaps even identical to -- those printed on federal and state envelopes that many consumers have received. Because you have not enclosed a copy of the dunning notice that CCC mailed in the envelope, I assume that it indicates that the correspondence is from CCC and does not imply that it is from a federal or state agency.
Section 807(1) is intended to prevent debt collectors from using a false threat of enforcement by a governmental agency to coerce consumers into paying alleged debts. Some consumers who receive the CCC envelope may believe -- before they open it -- that the correspondence is from a governmental agency and, thus, open the envelope and read the contents quickly. After reading the dunning notice, however, they will realize that the correspondence is from CCC and will not be coerced into paying an alleged debt out of fear of reprisal by "the government." Therefore, it is our opinion that CCC's envelope, taken together with its contents, does not violate Section 807(1) of the FDCPA.
The views expressed herein represent an informal staff opinion. As such, they are not binding on the Commission. They do, however, reflect the staff's current enforcement position.
Again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
Thomas E. Kane