ACA Comments: Concerns Remain with CFPB Debt Collection Disclosures Survey

While ACA International applauds changes since the consumer survey was withdrawn and revised in 2017, the bureau must also consider other resources to inform its development of debt collection disclosures.

3/7/2019 11:30 AM

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ACA Comments: Concerns Remain with CFPB Debt Collection Disclosures Survey

Revisions to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s web-based survey on debt collection disclosures are a step in the right direction, but additional improvements are needed to ensure the results yield clear feedback from consumers and ultimately a collaborative debt collection rulemaking process, according to ACA International comments filed with the CFPB on its “Debt Collection Quantitative Disclosure Testing.”

In December 2017, amidst substantial criticism, the CFPB withdrew its request to conduct its planned survey on debt collection disclosures, ACA International previously reported.

Given ACA International’s consistent advocacy against the fundamental flaws of the proposed disclosure survey, ACA applauded former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s action to withdraw and revise the survey.

Now, under leadership of Director Kathy Kraninger, the CFPB continues to research debt collection disclosures and pursue plans to issue a web-based survey of 8,000 individuals.

According to the bureau, the survey is intended to “explore consumer comprehension and decision making in response to debt collection disclosure forms.”

ACA International identified a range of concerning issues in response to an information collection request in June 2017, some of which appear to have been addressed by the bureau.

For example, ACA noted that the bureau originally did not provide the disclosure notices for review. In the current version of the research project, the bureau has made those notifications available for review prior to the administration of the survey.

Additional changes to the survey include addressing consumers’ financial literacy with a new section to measure their understanding of debt collection law and processes and the inclusion of electronic disclosures.

However, some concerns remain with the survey as proposed.

“While ACA International applauds the bureau’s initiative to revise the survey, we remain concerned about certain aspects of the survey including its complex questions and some that appear to be rooted in asking for feedback on emotions,” said Leah Dempsey, ACA International’s vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy. “Additionally, as an overarching matter we continue to urge the bureau to consider the extensive feedback ACA has provided about a model validation notice, which reflects feedback from consumers in conjunction with the real-world experience of the accounts receivable management industry.”

The revised survey, for example, also appears to do more to seek to determine what the respondent’s financial situation may be.

Overall, while consumer surveys can be a helpful aspect of developing policymaking, there are also many other aspects surrounding disclosures that the bureau must consider when moving forward with rules in this area including applicable state laws, electronic alternatives, and predatory litigation in this area that targets highly technical violations (which can have little to no impact on consumers.)

“ACA has sought, and the bureau has encouraged, a collaborative debt collection rulemaking process,” Dempsey said in the comments. “In general, greater transparency about why data is being collected and how it is being used in the rulemaking process is critical. To that end, not knowing for certain exactly how this revised survey information will be included, if at all, in the forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the FDCPA, it is impossible at this time to determine or comment on whether its use will comply with Administrative Procedures Act requirements.”

Read ACA International’s complete comments on debt collection disclosures here.

If you would like to discuss regulatory issues such as this with key policymakers, join ACA International’s advocacy staff May 14-16 in Washington, D.C. for the annual Washington Insights Fly-In. Registration is now open!

If you are interested in sharing articles and analysis on legal cases, industry laws and regulations or other relevant topics for possible publication with ACA International, email our Communications Department at comm@acainternational.org.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

ACA Comments: Concerns Remain with CFPB Debt Collection Disclosures Survey

Revisions to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s web-based survey on debt collection disclosures are a step in the right direction, but additional improvements are needed to ensure the results yield clear feedback from consumers and ultimately a collaborative debt collection rulemaking process, according to ACA International comments filed with the CFPB on its “Debt Collection Quantitative Disclosure Testing.”

In December 2017, amidst substantial criticism, the CFPB withdrew its request to conduct its planned survey on debt collection disclosures, ACA International previously reported.

Given ACA International’s consistent advocacy against the fundamental flaws of the proposed disclosure survey, ACA applauded former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s action to withdraw and revise the survey.

Now, under leadership of Director Kathy Kraninger, the CFPB continues to research debt collection disclosures and pursue plans to issue a web-based survey of 8,000 individuals.

According to the bureau, the survey is intended to “explore consumer comprehension and decision making in response to debt collection disclosure forms.”

ACA International identified a range of concerning issues in response to an information collection request in June 2017, some of which appear to have been addressed by the bureau.

For example, ACA noted that the bureau originally did not provide the disclosure notices for review. In the current version of the research project, the bureau has made those notifications available for review prior to the administration of the survey.

Additional changes to the survey include addressing consumers’ financial literacy with a new section to measure their understanding of debt collection law and processes and the inclusion of electronic disclosures.

However, some concerns remain with the survey as proposed.

“While ACA International applauds the bureau’s initiative to revise the survey, we remain concerned about certain aspects of the survey including its complex questions and some that appear to be rooted in asking for feedback on emotions,” said Leah Dempsey, ACA International’s vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy. “Additionally, as an overarching matter we continue to urge the bureau to consider the extensive feedback ACA has provided about a model validation notice, which reflects feedback from consumers in conjunction with the real-world experience of the accounts receivable management industry.”

The revised survey, for example, also appears to do more to seek to determine what the respondent’s financial situation may be.

Overall, while consumer surveys can be a helpful aspect of developing policymaking, there are also many other aspects surrounding disclosures that the bureau must consider when moving forward with rules in this area including applicable state laws, electronic alternatives, and predatory litigation in this area that targets highly technical violations (which can have little to no impact on consumers.)

“ACA has sought, and the bureau has encouraged, a collaborative debt collection rulemaking process,” Dempsey said in the comments. “In general, greater transparency about why data is being collected and how it is being used in the rulemaking process is critical. To that end, not knowing for certain exactly how this revised survey information will be included, if at all, in the forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the FDCPA, it is impossible at this time to determine or comment on whether its use will comply with Administrative Procedures Act requirements.”

Read ACA International’s complete comments on debt collection disclosures here.

If you would like to discuss regulatory issues such as this with key policymakers, join ACA International’s advocacy staff May 14-16 in Washington, D.C. for the annual Washington Insights Fly-In. Registration is now open!

If you are interested in sharing articles and analysis on legal cases, industry laws and regulations or other relevant topics for possible publication with ACA International, email our Communications Department at comm@acainternational.org.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

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