CFPB, FTC Focus on Research, Legal Actions in Annual FDCPA Report to Congress

ACA International continues to engage with regulators to ensure industry’s voice is heard as the CFPB proceeds with the FDCPA debt collection rulemaking and research on consumer complaint data to inform its processes.

4/5/2019 8:00 AM

CFPB, FTC Focus on Research, Legal Actions in Annual FDCPA Report to Congress

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s eighth annual report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides an effective gauge of what the accounts receivable management industry can expect from the bureau in the coming year based on its supervision, enforcement, complaint data, and amicus curiae briefs filed in cases related to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

It also reflects areas where ACA International and its advocacy and research teams will continue to work on informing the bureau on behalf of members and the accounts receivable management industry, particularly on how it defines and characterizes complaints about debt collection.

The report is released in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission after the two agencies reauthorized their memorandum of understanding in February that provides for coordination in enforcement, sharing of supervisory information and consumer complaints on consumer education.

Like previous versions, the report is comprehensive, touching on a multitude of debt collection-related efforts and initiatives by the CFPB as well as the FTC that occurred in the last year.

The report details efforts to stop unlawful debt collection practices, including through law enforcement, education and public outreach and policy initiatives.

In addition to discussing the CFPB and FTC’s debt collection research and rulemaking activities, the report provides background on the debt collection market, an overview of consumer complaints, supervisory activities, enforcement actions, consumer education and outreach.

“The bureau and the FTC share authority to enforce the FDCPA, and the two agencies work closely together to coordinate our respective debt collection efforts,” said CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger in her introduction to the report.

ACA International’s review of the report shows the bureau is focusing more on the debt collection marketplace as its release of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) approaches, including the use of consumer complaint data while also weighing in on court cases arising under the FDCPA.

Debt Collection Research and Rulemaking

The CFPB is continuing its spring 2019 timeline for NPRM on debt collection, which will address issues such as communication practices and consumer disclosures.

“In the report, the bureau states its intent to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on debt collection that will address issues ranging from communication practices to consumer disclosures,” according to a news release from the CFPB.

As part of efforts to improve its understanding of the debt collection market and its mandate to monitor the debt collection industry, according to Kraninger, the CFPB is also conducting a survey of major credit card issuers’ collection practices as part of its 2019 Credit Card Market Report.

“These research and market monitoring activities have aided in the ongoing development of bureau positions and policies relating to debt collection, including assisting in the agency’s rulemaking work,” Kraninger said. “The bureau understands that the debt collection industry, by and large, wants to comply with consumer protection laws. However, where there are bad actors who violate the law, we will take enforcement actions to protect consumers. “We will continue to work to make sure that American consumers are treated fairly, that debt collectors can compete on a level playing field, and that all stakeholders can benefit from new developments in business and technology.”

While ACA believes any potential debt collection rulemaking must be based on meaningful research and analysis, the CFPB’s debt collection research in some instances has raised questions and ACA has outlined concerns in RFI responses to the bureau.

The bureau also continues to develop quantitative testing of certain potential disclosures related to debt collection which could support the FDCPA rulemaking. It is monitoring the debt collection industry and engaging with stakeholders to improve its understanding of the market and develop informed policies that will protect consumers without imposing unnecessary costs.

In 2018, the bureau also requested information from major credit card issuers regarding their collection and recovery practices to address a variety of relevant topics in credit card collections, including consumer communication methods, use of modern technologies, debt sales, litigation practices and debt settlement. Key insights from the survey will be published in the bureau’s forthcoming 2019 Credit Card Market Report.

Read the complete annual report on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and more on debt collection data and supervisory and examination findings in ACA Daily in the coming week.

ACA International members interested in discussing legislative and 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!

Related Content from ACA International:

One Step Closer to Rulemaking: CFPB Releases Annual Report on FDCPA

ACA Cast: Experts Discuss CFPB Rulemaking

CFPB’s Seventh Annual Report to Congress Focuses on Partnership with FTC

ACA Comments: Concerns Remain with CFPB Debt Collection Disclosures Survey

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