Industry Insight: What ACA Members Are Saying on the CFPB Proposed Debt Collection Rule

After the release of the long-awaited FDCPA proposal from the CFPB, members provide initial thoughts on this historic action and challenges and opportunities it presents.

5/7/2019 4:00 PM

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Industry Insight: What ACA Members Are Saying on the CFPB Proposed Debt Collection Rule

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released the long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act on May 7.

According to a news release from the CFPB: “Among other things, the NPRM would set clear, bright-line limits on the number of calls debt collectors may place to reach consumers on a weekly basis; clarify how collectors may communicate lawfully using newer technologies, such as voicemails, emails and text messages, that have developed since the FDCPA’s passage in 1977; and require collectors to provide additional information to consumers to help them identify debts and respond to collection attempts.”

In conjunction with the release of the proposed rule, the bureau also released a Fast Facts document that summarizes key provisions in the proposed rule, as well as a flowchart that outlines the proposal’s electronic disclosure options for three required disclosures.

Here are some ACA members’ initial reactions to the proposal:

Brown Jack web Two

“The release of the CFPB’s proposed rules on debt collection is a historic time for our industry.  As with any change, there are challenges and opportunities presented to our members; the rules provide opportunities to deploy modern technology in communicating with consumers while also presenting challenges of fertile ground for consumer attorneys to plow.  ACA International continues to vigorously represent our members’ interests in advocating for clear rules of the road for our industry and members.”

Jack Brown III

ACA International President

President, Gulf Coast Collection Bureau Inc.

Sarasota, Florida

“The proposed rule reflects the Bureau following through on promises made throughout the rulemaking process about the issues to be addressed.  There are proposals related to voicemails, the debt validation notice, and consumer contact methods (including, most significantly, electronic communications) and frequency. If enacted, this rule will give debt collectors some reliable parameters within which to try and collect valid consumer debts without the threat of technical litigation around debt validation notices and the uncertainty about voicemails that have plagued the industry for years. But other issues that have been the subject of troublesome litigation recently, such as the collection of time-barred debt, are not necessarily resolved by the proposed rule.”

Chuck Dodge

Partner

Hudson Cook LLP

Hanover, Maryland

“The Small Business Review Panel process [in 2016] was disjointed and did not have all of the players at the table. As I am reading the proposed rule now, I’m happy to see many comments in relation to the SBREFA panels requests were taken into account. However, there are still many issues to address such as call frequency, credit reporting and suggested dunning letter format. Their expectations of processes matched against the current software capabilities of creditors and vendors alike will likely prove extremely challenging. On the positive side, I expect some ‘safe harbors’ for all actors involved in the credit and collection processes.”

Bill Hopkinson, IFCCE, CCAE

President/CEO

Valley Credit Service Incorporated

Charlottesville, Virginia

“The non-voice communication channels need to become available to the industry. I do have concerns about the CFPB’s plans surrounding out of statute collections and I am hoping that during the town hall they are clearer as to how they plan to police this area of the industry, especially when every state has a different statute of limitations. This proposed rule process has been in the making for years and I didn’t want to miss such an historic event for the industry. It was great to be able to talk to the bureau staff after the event to get further insight into the proposed rules – I was happy to see that the town hall was balanced, having experts on the debt collection side as well as consumer advocates."

Michael Lamm

President/CEO

Corporate Advisory Solutions

Philadelphia

“As I preliminarily read through this rule, I am encouraged to see that the CFPB has provided proposed rules to address specific industry concerns raised throughout this long process.”

Kelly Knepper Stephens Web

Kelly Knepper-Stephens

Vice President of Legal

True Accord Corp

San Francisco, California

“Today the Bureau took a reasonable first step toward providing clarity under the FDCPA about communications with debtors, including a safe harbor for email and text message communications, a limited-content message that would not be deemed a “communication” under FDCPA, and a fixed number of call attempts per week that would not be considered harassment. However, the proposed rule contains terms that lack precision (e.g., use of “recently” in the safe harbor definition) and will increase risk for collectors looking to innovate with electronic disclosures, reporting debts to consumer reporting agencies, or attempting to collect debts for which the statute of limitations has expired or will soon expire. The proposed rule will be open for comments before becoming final and I expect the Bureau will listen to feedback from industry to further refine the proposed rule, provide consumers with protection from bad actors, and give industry the clarity it needs to operate in this hyper-litigious atmosphere.”

Josh Stevens

Senior Attorney

Mac Murray & Shuster LLP

New Albany, Ohio

A members-only webinar to discuss the meaning of the rule and the next steps is scheduled for Thursday, May, 9.

If you are interested in sharing your feedback on the proposed rule, contact ACA International’s Communications Team Attn: Katy Zillmer at comm@acainternational.org. Subscribe to ACA Daily for continued updates on the proposed rule.


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.

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