7th Circuit Requires FDCPA Disclosures in E-Mail Communications

The FDCPA requires a debt collector to disclose certain information to a debtor in its “initial communication” or by sending a “written notice containing” the disclosures within five days after that “initial communication.” In Lavallee v. Med-1 Solutions, LLC, the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of a debtor, rejecting the debt collector’s contention that emails were initial communications that contained the required disclosures. The debt collector argues that is satisfied the FDCPA requirement when it sent the debtor two emails relating to two medical debts that each included a link to a webpage on which the debtor could open a “secure package” that would then take the debtor to another webpage on which she could open the validation notice which was in electronic PDF. In Lavallee, there was evidence that the debtor never viewed or accessed either of the secured packages containing the validation notices for either medical debt. The court ruled that the validation notices were never sent because the debtor never downloaded them, and the debt collector’s delivery method of embedding a hyperlink in an email made receipt unlikely.