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Italian traffic violations explanation needed...

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Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
That is likely to be deemed illegal under US law. Violations of the FDCPA can result in you paying a $1000 in statutory damages plus attorney fees to the debtor. As a third party collector you should educate yourself on the FDCPA and avoid violating it.
The courts have held that the FDCPA does not cover collection of tax obligations and governmental fines. The leading federal appeals court decision with respect to the treatment of fines under the FDCPA is from the Seventh Circuit, the first appeals court to consider the matter, and it stated:

Our analysis of the FDCPA must begin with the text of the statute, McMillan v. Collection Prof'ls, Inc., 455 F.3d 754, 762 (7th Cir.2006). The text, as we read § 1692a(5), defines “debt” in a manner that necessarily excludes fines from coverage. Our reading is shared by the Federal Trade Commission, which “holds some interpretative and enforcement authority with respect to the FDCPA,” Carter v. AMC, LLC, 645 F.3d 840, 843 (7th Cir.2011). See 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692k(e), 1692l, 1692o. That agency has interpreted the FDCPA to exclude fines from the definition of “debt.” See Statements of General Policy or Interpretation Staff Commentary on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 53 Fed.Reg. 50,097, 50,102 (Dec. 13, 1988). The agency's commentary “is based primarily on issues discussed in informal staff letters responding to public requests for interpretations and on the Commission's enforcement program,” id. at 50,101, and does not receive Chevron deference, see United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U.S. 218, 234, 121 S.Ct. 2164, 150 L.Ed.2d 292 (2001). But the commentary is entitled to “respectful consideration.” Carter, 645 F.3d at 844.
Apparently the question whether fines are “debts” under the FDCPA has never arisen in a court of appeals (at least not in a precedential decision). Yet that issue has come up frequently in the district courts, which have concluded uniformly that a fine does not stem from a consensual transaction and thus is not a debt under the FDCPA....We agree with these decisions and, as did the district court, conclude that the municipal fines levied against Gulley cannot reasonably be understood as “debts” arising from consensual consumer transactions for goods and services. Accordingly, the allegations in his amended complaint state no claim under the FDCPA and were properly dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6).

Gulley v. Markoff & Krasny, 664 F.3d 1073, 1074–75 (7th Cir. 2011). So the FDCPA is not implicated when collecting these Italian government fines as they are not "consumer debt."
 


justalayman

Senior Member
The courts have held that the FDCPA does not cover collection of tax obligations and governmental fines. The leading federal appeals court decision with respect to the treatment of fines under the FDCPA is from the Seventh Circuit, the first appeals court to consider the matter, and it stated:

Our analysis of the FDCPA must begin with the text of the statute, McMillan v. Collection Prof'ls, Inc., 455 F.3d 754, 762 (7th Cir.2006). The text, as we read § 1692a(5), defines “debt” in a manner that necessarily excludes fines from coverage. Our reading is shared by the Federal Trade Commission, which “holds some interpretative and enforcement authority with respect to the FDCPA,” Carter v. AMC, LLC, 645 F.3d 840, 843 (7th Cir.2011). See 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692k(e), 1692l, 1692o. That agency has interpreted the FDCPA to exclude fines from the definition of “debt.” See Statements of General Policy or Interpretation Staff Commentary on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 53 Fed.Reg. 50,097, 50,102 (Dec. 13, 1988). The agency's commentary “is based primarily on issues discussed in informal staff letters responding to public requests for interpretations and on the Commission's enforcement program,” id. at 50,101, and does not receive Chevron deference, see United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U.S. 218, 234, 121 S.Ct. 2164, 150 L.Ed.2d 292 (2001). But the commentary is entitled to “respectful consideration.” Carter, 645 F.3d at 844.
Apparently the question whether fines are “debts” under the FDCPA has never arisen in a court of appeals (at least not in a precedential decision). Yet that issue has come up frequently in the district courts, which have concluded uniformly that a fine does not stem from a consensual transaction and thus is not a debt under the FDCPA....We agree with these decisions and, as did the district court, conclude that the municipal fines levied against Gulley cannot reasonably be understood as “debts” arising from consensual consumer transactions for goods and services. Accordingly, the allegations in his amended complaint state no claim under the FDCPA and were properly dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6).

Gulley v. Markoff & Krasny, 664 F.3d 1073, 1074–75 (7th Cir. 2011). So the FDCPA is not implicated when collecting these Italian government fines as they are not "consumer debt."
I’ll have to get back to this as it’s time to prep for work but consider this;

A judgment against a party that was involved in an auto accident is not based on a consensual transaction. Are you going to tell me that would not fall under the fdcpa if a third party makes collection efforts?

Or what about a civil forfeiture claim when a person is caught shoplifting if acted on by a third party collector?

What about when a person is a victim of identity theft and a collection agency makes efforts to collect on those debts?

I know I won’t change the courts mind but a fine is more of a mutual action founded debt than any of the above. A person driving knows there Are penalties for violating the law..They choose to break the law regardless. The driver knows the state will enforce the laws and levy fines. If thst is not a consensual creation of a debt, I don’t know what ia

Regardless, I believe my advice is still valid. Based on the tenor of the ops post, they are likely not aware of the exception of fines and the fdcpa and they stated they do engage in prohibited activity in order to encourage a debtor to pay a debt. I suspect they use similar tactics regarding debts that do fall under the fdcpa.
 
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Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
I’ll have to get back to this as it’s time to prep for work but consider this;
A judgment against a party that was involved in an auto accident is not based on a consensual transaction. Are you going to tell me that would not fall under the fdcpa if a third party makes collection efforts?
Yes. A judgment based on negligence or other tortious conduct is not a consumer debt within the meaning of the FDCPA, based on the same principle, according to federal district court decisions on the matter. For example:

Said another way, such an obligation is not a function of any contract Plaintiff had with the Triggs, but, rather arises independently from Plaintiff's alleged negligence. But for Plaintiff's negligence in performing such services, there would be no duty upon Plaintiff to make any payment to the Triggs or any of their subrogees.
Accordingly, in such a setting, tortious conduct (i.e., negligence) does not constitute a consensual or consumer transaction....Therefore, the Court finds that this action does not involve a “debt” as defined by the FDCPA and, as a result, Plaintiff's FDCPA-related claims (Counts I and II) fail as a matter of law.

Bartlett v. Blaser, Sorensen & Oleson, Chartered, 27 F. Supp. 3d 1092, 1103–04 (D. Idaho 2014).

Or what about a civil forfeiture claim when a person is caught shoplifting if acted on by a third party collector?
Again, it appears that is also not a consumer debt subject to the FDCPA. In a case where the plaintiff stole cable TV services and then sued a collector for alleged FDCPA violations as the result of efforts by the collector to recover the theft loss for the cable company, a federal district court held that theft loss was not a consumer debt and thus not subject to the FDCPA:

A “transaction” within the FDCPA is “a transaction in which a consumer is offered or extended the right to acquire ‘money, property, insurance or services' ... and to defer payment.” Zimmerman, 834 F.2d at 1168 (emphasis added). “[T]he paradigmatic example of a ‘transaction’ is when a person is given the opportunity to enjoy a commodity or service now, and pay later.” Vosatka v. Wolin–Levin, Inc., No. 94–C–4129, 1995 WL 443950, at *3 (N.D.Ill. July, 21, 1995) (emphasis added). A claim arising out of an alleged theft does not constitute a “debt” under the FDCPA. Shorts v. Palmer, 155 F.R.D. 172 (S.D.Ohio 1994). “[A]lthough a thief undoubtedly has an obligation to pay for the goods or services he steals, the FDCPA limits its reach to those obligations to pay arising from consensual transactions, where parties negotiate or contract for consumer-related goods or services.” Bass v. Stolper, Koritzinsky, Brewster & Neider, S.C., 111 F.3d 1322, 1326 (7th Cir.1997).
Plaintiff's alleged unauthorized reception of Cablevision's Pay Per View and Premium Programming constitutes theft not a receipt of services giving rise to a “debt.” While Cablevision did extend to Plaintiff the right to defer payment with respect to its basic cable package, it did not extend any such right with respect to Cablevision's Pay Per View or Premium Programming Services.
Plaintiff is correct that a debt collector cannot escape the provisions of the FDCPA by using alternative means of collecting a debt, such as through a court proceeding. However, there must be a debt. Plaintiff's alleged theft by use of an illegal decoding device does not constitute a “debt” within the meaning of the FDCPA.

Coretti v. Lefkowitz, 965 F. Supp. 3, 5 (D. Conn. 1997).

Regardless, I believe my advice is still valid. Based on the tenor of the ops post, they are likely not aware of the exception of fines and the fdcpa and they stated they do engage in prohibited activity in order to encourage a debtor to pay a debt. I suspect they use similar tactics regarding debts that do fall under the fdcpa.
I completely agree that all debt collectors need to know and follow the FDCPA where it applies. I only took issue with your comment that the OP's employer would be subject to the FDCPA while collecting fines for traffic violations. The prevailing case law makes it clear that's not the case, and the same principles that underlie that decision also applies to the other types of debts you mentioned here. I realize that may come as a surprise to some who assumed, as evidently you did, that the law covered more than it does. Simply because a debt is not a business debt does not make it a consumer debt, as the Congress did not define consumer debt in that way. The courts interpret a consumer debt to basically be a contractual one that is incurred for family/personal reasons.
 
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quincy

Senior Member
"Why are Italian signs written in Italian?" and "Why are Italian tickets written in Italian?" and "Why don't the Italian officials call US violators?" are three questions asked by awaixjvd that make me smile a bit. :)

To answer one of awaixjvd's question on "Why doesn't the USA publish manuals for tour guides?": There are several travel publications available for both tour guides and tourists on the laws that are most likely to affect foreign travelers. Rental car agencies, too, provide foreign travelers with the driving laws.

I still believe awaixjvd might find himself happier with a different collection agency.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
To the OP: Despite the fact that large numbers of people from a great many countries come to visit the US, road signs are written in English. Why is that?

When you send something overseas, do you have it translated?
 
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