Collection Attorneys – Do NOT pimp out your letterhead to your collection agency clients

Mr. Yaple, a California collection attorney represents (or may be represented) a California collection agency called TK Financial. Ms. Vlach, an Ohio consumer received a letter from Attorney Yaple in May of 2008 in which he informed her that he had been retained by TK Financial to pursue a debt against her. The letter also said that he intended to sue her and collect costs of the litigation and attorneys’ fees. The letter was not signed by Mr. Yaple himself, but rather a typed signature. She is suing Mr. Yaple for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
She also presented the court with two emails that purportedly came from Yaple that represented that he intended to file a lawsuit against her.
Mr. Yaple contends that he did not compose these communications. Rather, he states that a rogue collector at TK Financial had created mock letterhead and set up an email account. In any event, he is now in trouble whether he is culpable or not. Although he is a California attorney, he was to defend himself in federal court in Ohio as a defendant in a class action. The case has since been settled and dismissed. Missing from the court’s docket was Mr. Yaple’s third party complaint against TK Financial and the allegedly rogue collector. This glaring omission speaks to whether there was truly a rogue collector or whether Mr. Yaple was pimping out his letterhead.

I don’t like speaking ill of my colleagues. It makes me sound as if I think I am better than they are and I am not. May be I am just a bit older and more seasoned than some. I wonder if Mr. Yaple actually allowed his name and letterhead to be used by what appeared to be a very good client, for a price. If so, he made a grievous if not illegal mistake. I don’t know that he did that. I just know that if I were Mr. Yaple and had received that complaint, I would not be able to file a Third Party Complaint against TK Financial fast enough. Mr. Yaple had ample opportunity to do so, but did not file it. I just have to wonder why.
Moral of the story -Collection Attorneys – Do NOT pimp out your letterhead or name to a client for any reason or any price…at all…ever. You are a professional trained in the law and your client is not. No good can come from it. You are far better off keeping the line between your collection agency client and you clear and bright. If you ever get a sense that someone is using your name or letterhead without your permission, you had better put a stop to that immediately even if it means filing a complaint against that person or entity.
I don’t know how much this lawsuit ultimately cost Mr. Yaple, but I am certain it was not cheap. The threat of being a defendant in a class action suit is overwhelming. The damages can threaten not only one’s assets, but one’s ability to practice law in the future. My dear colleagues, I urge to guard your name and reputation jealously.
Collection Agencies and managers – If you get wind that one of your collectors is going rogue by using an attorney’s name and letterhead, you had better learn the phrase “vicarious liability” in a hurry. Simply stated, this means that if your employ is a screw up, you can be held accountable.

If you have any debt collection related questions, call or email Attorney Gary Nitzkin for a free consultation.  Visit our website at  For more information about collection law, follow our blog at or call (888) 293-2882.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010 and is filed under Debt Collection Laws - Federal . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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