- Issue 3 - April 2019, Volume 46

The [Un]Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: A Critique of Henson v. Santander

Article by: Monica Paladini

46 PEPP. L. REV. 587 (2018)

Congress was clear about its purposes and motivations behind enacting the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977. Namely, it set out to protect consumers from abusive debt collectors and to protect ethical debt collectors from being competitively disadvantaged by those who employ abusive tactics. Although Congress gave much time and effort to crafting the definition of “debt collectors” at the time of the Act’s passage, changes in the debt collection industry over the last four decades have greatly impacted the scope and reach of the FDCPA. Specifically, the advent and rise of debt purchasing have introduced an entirely new form of debt collection that was not in existence at the time of the Act’s passage.

American consumer protection laws have been criticized for their failure to provide adequate protection to consumers from the growing debt collection industry. Yet, the Court’s strict textual interpretation of the FDCPA in Henson despite these mammoth evolutions, failed to close an unfair loophole that facilitates abusive debt collection practices by debt buyers. This Comment examines the implications of Henson and argues that it eviscerates the main thrust of the FDCPA by subjecting both consumers and debt collectors to the unethical and unfair practices that the Act was designed to prevent from one of the primary offenders. This is precisely the type of “injustice, oppression, [and] absurd consequence” that the Court has cautioned against when applying a textual interpretation of a statute.


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