In the case Warren v. Countrywide Home Loans, homeowner Reginald Warren defaulted on his mortgage, and lender Countrywide Home Loans foreclosed on the property.
Prior to the foreclosure, the homeowner requested that Countrywide verify the mortgage debt. Countrywide, however, failed to respond to the homeowner’s debt verification request and proceeded with the foreclosure sale.
The homeowner filed suit, claiming that Countrywide’s failure to verify his mortgage debt prior to the foreclosure sale violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) 15 USC Section 1692g(b).
The district court dismissed the homeowner’s claim summarily, and the appellate court affirmed the district court’s ruling. The express language of a particular section of the FDCPA defines a debt collector as a person who is in the business of enforcing security interests, but specifies that this definition is strictly for purposes of that particular section of the Act.
By so expressly limiting the definition to that section, the Court of Appeals explained, the Legislature implies that a person in the business of enforcing security interests is not a debt collector for purposes of the rest of the Act.
Thus, the court found, the Legislature implies that the enforcement of a security interest — as by foreclosure — does not constitute debt collection as covered by the FDCPA. Accordingly, Countrywide’s failure to respond to the homeowner’s request for debt verification before foreclosing on his property did not violate the act, and the district court’s ruling was affirmed.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site, www.rethinkrealestate.com.
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.