Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

On Wednesday November 6, the CFPB released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking comment on debt collection practices and noting that the Bureau is considering proposing rules regarding debt collection. The CFPB simultaneously announced that it was adding approximately 5,000 consumer debt collection complaints to its public Consumer Complaint Database. According to the

As initially reported, the CFPB and FTC held a public roundtable last week that brought together industry stakeholders, government officials and consumer advocates to discuss the use of consumer data throughout the debt collection process. Participants acknowledged that the transfer and sale of debt presents unique obstacles for the use of consumer data across the life of a debt, but that certain steps could be taken to move towards a more efficient system for all parties.

Providing welcoming remarks along with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill, Acting Deputy Director of the CFPB Steve Antonakes noted that the discussion could be broken down into three “areas of focus.” First, one must consider the initial accuracy of information that debt collectors use to pursue consumers. Second, one should consider the accuracy of the information over time, meaning whether the information “deteriorates as it ages or gets passed down the line to secondary or tertiary buyers.” Third, even accepting the accuracy of the information relied upon, safeguards should be taken to ensure that the consumer can dispute debts believed to be incorrect.

The daylong roundtable generally echoed these themes as various presenters and panels provided their thoughts on the present system and prospective channels for improvement. Most notably, participants from industry and consumer protection groups agreed that moving towards a more uniform system for data standards would facilitate a more efficient market, thus benefitting industry and consumers. While some details concerning potential data standards remained unclear, widespread agreement emerged that certain basic information should be included as part of any debt file, including the identity of the original creditor and the amount owed.


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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will co-host a roundtable on June 6, 2013 to examine how consumer data is used and maintained in the debt collection process, according to an FTC news release issued yesterday. The roundtable will include a discussion of such topics as:

• the amount of documentation and other information currently available to different types of collectors and at different points in the debt collection process;
• the information needed to verify and substantiate debts;
• the costs and benefits of providing consumers with additional disclosures about their debts and debt-related rights; and
• information issues relating to pleading and judgment in debt collection litigation.


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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) plans to begin accepting consumer complaints regarding the debt collection industry in the second quarter of this year, according to a report issued yesterday by Bloomberg News. The CFPB presently accepts complaints regarding a limited number of CFPB-regulated products and services, including bank accounts, credit cards, credit reporting, money

The FTC and CFPB have issued reports on their FDCPA enforcement actions and other FDCPA related activities in 2011. The FTC previously had responsibility for issuing annual reports on FDCPA enforcement but the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act transferred reporting responsibility to the CFPB. The CFPB, however, has only just begun its program to administer and enforce the FDCPA. Thus, the FTC styled its report as a letter, dated March 13, 2012, to the CFPB and outlined its recent enforcement activities, while the CFPB’s report, released March 20, 2012, focused on its initial steps. 


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The FTC’s final Statement of Policy Regarding Communications in Connection with the Collection of Decedents’ Debts was published on July 27, 2011 in the Federal Register. The policy statement clarifies that the agency will not take enforcement action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) or the FTC Act against a debt collector for communicating with certain classes of individuals specified in the FDCPA or an individual who has the authority to pay debts out of the assets of the decedent’s estate. This final Statement will be effective on August 29, 2011.


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The FTC released a proposed policy statement with a call for public comments on October 4, 2010. The policy statement clarifies when the FTC will take action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the FTC Act against companies collecting the debts of deceased consumers.

In general, the FDCPA permits collectors to contact

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Jerman v. Carlisle, McNellie, Rini, Kramer & Ulrich LPA (“Jerman”) (Docket 08-1200) that resolves a circuit split regarding the scope of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s bona fide error defense and disposes of a key defense to FDCPA liability for debt collector defendants.