N.D. Illinois Reviews Bona Fide Error Defense Where Debt Collector Serves Wrong Party with Same Name as Consumer

Debt collectors, especially those dealing with high volumes of accounts, inevitably face the issue of a debtor having the same name as an unrelated third-party. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides a defense to a debt collector that unintentionally violates the statute despite having reasonable policies and procedures in place to prevent such violation. In Ali v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC et al., No. 15-CV-6178 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 30, 2018), the Northern District of Illinois reviewed whether a debt collector was entitled to summary judgment on the bona fide error defense in a situation where it served a wrong party who had the same name as the consumer. While the court's opinion dealt with several issues, this article will focus on the bona fide error defense.

Factual and Procedural Background

Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (PRA) purchased a debt that was owed by an individual named “Syed H. Ali” who was born in 1972, whose social security number ended in 8783, and who resided at an address in Moore, Texas.

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