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Perlow v. ABC Financial Services, Inc.

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, Business Litigation Session

June 19, 2018

Matthew PERLOW, Individually and On Behalf of Other Persons Similarly Situated
v.
ABC FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. et al.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ALLOWING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT and DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

          Kenneth W. Salinger, Justice of the Superior Court

          Matthew Perlow claims that ABC Financial Services, Inc., and Seas & Associates violated G.L.c. 93A while trying to collect a debt. He claims that ABC violated a regulation requiring creditors to inform the debtor of the amount of the debt within five business days after the creditor’s first communication to the debtor about the debt. Perlow claims that Seas violated state law by acting as a debt collector without first obtaining a debt collection license from the Commissioner of Banks. The Court concludes that Defendants are entitled to summary judgment in their favor because Perlow has mustered no evidence that he suffered any injury that was separate and distinct from ABC’s and Seas’ unfair or deceptive acts. It must deny class certification for the same reason.

         1. Legal Background

         1.1. The "Validation of Debt" Regulation

         The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has promulgated a regulation requiring creditors that seek to collect on a debt to provide the debtor with information regarding the amount of the debt and how the debtor may challenge the validity of some or all of the alleged debt. See 940 C.M.R. § 7.08. The relevant portion of this regulation provides as follows:

(1) It shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a creditor to fail to provide to a debtor or an attorney for a debtor the following within five business days after the initial communication with a debtor in connection with the collection of a debt, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the debtor has paid the debt:
(a) The amount of the debt;
(b) The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
(c) A statement that unless the debtor, within 30 days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the creditor; and
(d) A statement that if the debtor notifies the creditor in writing within 30 days after receipt of this notice that the debt, or any portion thereof is disputed, the creditor will obtain verification of the debt and provide the debtor, or an attorney for the debtor, additional materials described in 940 CMR 7.08(2).

Id.

         1.2. The Debt Collection Licensing Requirements

         It is unlawful to engage in "the business of a debt collector" in Massachusetts "without first obtaining" a debt collector’s license from the Commissioner of Banks. G.L.c. 93, § 24. By statute, any violation of this statute "shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act or ...


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