Credit and Collection Industry Helps Empower Consumers to Maintain Control Over Finances
3/5/2018 8:00 AM
ACA International Recognizes National Consumer Protection Week
As the leading voice of the credit and collection industry, ACA International applauds the Federal Trade Commission for its efforts to educate consumers about their rights during National Consumer Protection Week, March 4-10, 2018.
ACA International members are well-trained professionals who understand laws and regulations, and work diligently to empower consumers to maintain control of their finances. Indeed, many consumers are contacted by third-party debt collectors to resolve duly owed financial obligations.
According to the Federal Reserve, the total household debt among U.S. consumers increased to $13.15 trillion in the fourth quarter 2017. Credit card debt increased by a total of $55 billion last year while the total was $834 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The third-party debt collection industry recovered $67.6 billion on behalf of creditors in 2016, according to a survey conducted by Ernst & Young on behalf of ACA International. The survey data are discussed in a report titled, The Impact of Third-Party Debt Collection on the U.S. National and State Economies in 2016, which also reveals that debt collection efforts represent $579 in savings on average per household by keeping the costs of goods and services lower.
“The third-party debt collection industry is an essential part of a healthy economy,” ACA International CEO Mark Neeb said. “It is a well-known fact that recovering unpaid obligations is key to maintaining low prices and enabling creditors to continue to loan money. ACA International encourages consumers to work with third-party debt collectors to amicably resolve collection issues.”
The debt collection industry is a highly regulated sector whose members work tirelessly to ensure that they follow state and federal laws. Here are a few of the important points to remember if you are contacted by a debt collector:
- Respect. Expect to be treated respectfully. Consumers cannot be harassed, threatened with actions by a debt collector that they don't intend to or cannot take, or be subjected to profanity and vulgar language.
- Identify. Ask for identification. Debt collectors cannot call anonymously nor can they falsely present themselves as representing a government entity. Collectors must provide meaningful disclosure of their identity and state that the call is from a debt collector.
- Communicate. Consumers can ask to cease all communication in writing or ignore attempted contacts. However, avoiding contact with a creditor or debt collector will not erase a debt. Communicate to discuss the account, verify its accuracy and work on a plan for resolution. If you don't owe the debt, communicating with them can help put a stop to calls or letters. Not communicating may lead to potentially non-consumer friendly activities such as credit reporting or legal action.
- Validate. Collectors are not interested in pursuing a debt that is not owed. By law, the collector must inform you of your right to dispute the debt and request written verification. Once sought, all collection activity stops until this proof is provided.
- Protect. Do not confirm or provide sensitive personal information (e.g., Social Security number, credit card numbers and bank accounts) until certain of the authenticity of the debt and the person collecting.
ACA members are working with regulators, Congress and state leaders to ensure a balanced debt collection system that protects consumer rights and allows the legitimate collection of debt to function.
ACA International (ACA), the association of credit and collection professionals, is the largest membership organization in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together third-party collection agencies, law firms, asset buying companies, creditors and vendor affiliates, representing tens of thousands of industry professionals. ACA produces a wide variety of products, services and publications, including educational and compliance-related information; and articulates the value of the credit and collection industry to businesses, policymakers and consumers. www.acainternational.org.