UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
September 10, 1996
Daniel R. Crouch
Dear Mr. Crouch:
This is in reply to your letter of June 27, 1996 concerning whether the "Credit Bureau of Connecticut," a private agency that provides "collection support" to Trans Union, violates Section 807(1) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by using "Connecticut" in its name.
Use of the name of a state in the name of a private debt collector has been held to violate Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, e.g., "Washington Service Bureau" (Bennett v. F.T.C., 200 F.2d 362 (D.C. Civ. 1952); "State Credit Control Board (Slough v. F.T.C., 396 F.2d 870 (5th Cir.), cert. denied 393 U.S. 980 (1968). Collectors have agreed to add language to their dunning letters to cease deceptive implications that they are related to or affiliated with a government entity ("Maryland Collection Service") Valderrama v. National Revenue Corp., Clearinghouse No. 31,734 (D. Nob 1983) (consent order).
Assuming, therefore, that the Credit Bureau of Connecticut is a "debt collector" covered by the FDCPA , we believe that, without exculpatory language in its letter, its use of the word "Connecticut" in its name could mislead a consumer into believing that the credit bureau is affiliated with the state of Connecticut, in violation of Section 807(1) of the FDCPA.
I hope this is responsive to your inquiry. Please be advised that this is the opinion of Commission staff and is not binding on the Commission.
John F. LeFevre