Consumer Litigation Defense
Consumer information is collected daily in a variety of ways, whether through loan and credit card applications, or consumer transactions with banks, retail stores, and other businesses. Innovative technologies make it easier than ever to connect businesses with their customers, but as this landscape continues to evolve, so too do the protections afforded to consumers. A patchwork of federal and state laws governs how financial institutions and other businesses use and maintain consumer information and interact with consumers. This includes regulation of not only access to and the exchange and management of information, but also the messaging and methods by which businesses communicate with consumers, such as mailings, phone calls, and other communications.
We assist clients in complying with the laws governing consumer rights, and defend claims pursued by consumers, whether brought individually or pursued as class actions. This includes compliance issues related to the following:
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
- Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA)
- Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
- Truth in Lending Act (TILA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- State data breach statutes
Further, many states have additional laws which may provide even greater protections than federal consumer protection laws, requiring a more in-depth understanding locally. Having lawyers across our eight-state footprint arms us with vital state-specific knowledge. State consumer protection laws in these states include:
- Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (DCSA)
- Kentucky Consumer Protection Act (KCPA)
- Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ODTPA)
- Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (OCSPA)
- Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA)
- Tennessee Collection Service Act (TCSA)
- Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA)
- West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (WVCCPA)
- West Virginia Computer Crime and Abuse Act (WVCCAA)
Proper handling and maintenance of consumer financial information is a growing area of concern and requires experienced counsel. Risks of exposure pose legal threats, as well as a lurking potential for damaging public relations issues. Banks, lending institutions, collection and credit reporting agencies need to be in direct contact with consumers, and often issues arise when these entities, their assignees, or third-parties pursue debt collection. We represent clients concerning compliance issues related to credit card accounts, loans, mortgages and foreclosure transactions. This includes defending clients regarding allegations of misconduct and alleged violations of consumer protection statutes related to collection of consumer debts or the handing of protected consumer information. This process often involves defending consumer counterclaims against businesses that have filed lawsuits to recover loans and account balances.
Whom We Advise
FBT attorneys work with financial institutions, mortgage and lending institutions, credit reporting agencies, collections agencies, debt buyers, and compliance officers on compliance with standards which govern dealings with consumers, and the handling of financial information and personal identifier information of consumers. FBT attorneys also frequently defend individual and class action litigation alleging that consumer protection standards were violated. We have substantial experience defending financial sector clients in consumer credit rights litigation. We also advise credit card companies and a variety of retailers and third-parties with issues related to consumer credit card accounts. Finally, our team understands the importance of being proactive to prevent litigation altogether, and offers effective compliance counseling.
Our attorneys provide services and counseling related to the following:
- Investigations and enforcement proceedings before various regulatory bodies, including state attorneys general, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Consumer claims
- Electronic signatures and “robo-signing” issues
- Communication consent, including phone and auto-dialer issues
- Claims of deceptive practices
- Consumer class actions
- Consumer privacy/data breaches and disclosures
- Litigation avoidance
- Compliance advice and counseling
- Counsel regarding data privacy and response to data breaches
How We Work
FBT attorneys represent clients in defending against consumer claims, often working in concert with our clients’ in-house legal departments. We are experienced in handling matters from the inception of a dispute through the conclusion of the litigation process. However, our clients will often engage us even before litigation arises to leverage our substantive consumer litigation knowledge and effective staffing capabilities.
Our team of consumer litigation attorneys uses an efficient process to handle consumer claims. We first assess the claim and understand our client’s objectives and litigation strategy. We then create a plan, outlining the timeline, associated risk, expected budget, and recommendation for the best path to resolution, that aligns with the client’s goals. Central to this strategy is efficiency and quick resolution, with an eye toward minimizing the impact on our client’s business and resources. In addition, our team includes both transactional attorneys and litigators who have become Certified Information Privacy Professionals through the International Association of Privacy Professionals, earning the preeminent global standard in privacy certification.
Our attorneys are well versed in federal laws that extend protections to consumers. However, in addition, many individual states have instituted state-specific statutes designed to protect consumers and their personal information. These can be particularly nuanced depending on the state, and non-compliance with individual state standards can lead to litigation. FBT’s team of consumer defense litigators are well versed on state-specific statutes within the firm’s footprint. In addition to serving as lead counsel to our clients, we have the capacity to serve as local counsel when necessary. Our team is often engaged for our substantive knowledge of this area of the law, which can be a challenging impediment for clients with nationwide collections issues.
- Advised large restaurant chain on data breach response.
- Counseled multiple clients on complying with data breach statutes in order to stave off potential litigation.
- Won dismissal of claims of illegal foreclosure; successfully defended the dismissal before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Successfully defended bank in high-profile cyber-banking account takeover attacks under Article 4 of the UCC.
- Won dismissal of FDCPA class action claims, establishing that request for payment in initial letters to consumers did not overshadow or create confusion as to consumers’ right to dispute the debt under the FDCPA.
- Successfully obtained dismissal of class action claims filed against bank alleging violations of state and federal law in connection with fees charged upon repossession of vehicles and notice provided prior to the sale of the repossessed vehicles.
- Won dismissal of FDCPA claims, establishing that communications with consumer did not contain threat of legal action which business could not legally take or did not intend to take.
- Successfully defended financial institution against FDCPA and other claims in federal court; successfully defended same claims refiled in state court.
- Won dismissal of claims arising from alleged data breach involving theft of banking information of loan applicants.
- Defeated class action based upon enforcement of arbitration agreements.