Debt Collection FDCPA and Digital

There is an abundance of legislation making news in the debt collection industry.

To be sure, every industry has good players, and bad players.   In every industry, the bad players get far more press.  However, amid the flurry of activity trying to make the process of collecting debt more fair for both creditor and debtor, there is also a call for information and opinions about how newer and more modern communications technologies should be impacted in the rules around debt collection.

It seems somehow just not that long ago when it was a real consideration for any business wether or not to have a fax machine, and today they are mostly passé.  I remember our own internal struggles back in the day with should we even allow email in the workplace, or internet access.  Again, those conversations somehow seem very old and far away.

That the CFPB has announced an advance notice of proposed rule making in the Feerla Register is totally and entirely appropriate.

Technology marches at a furious and relentless pace.  Without clear guidelines on what is and is not appropriate, especially for attorneys where their membership in the local bar might be at stake, is imperative.

The Bureau is looking at these primary areas when it comes to emerging communications vehicles:

  • The types of technologies that debt collectors regularly use to communicate or transact business with consumers;
  • The types of collection technologies that merit the application of FDCPA rules regarding “unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices”;
  • Emerging communications technologies that might materially benefit or harm consumers or debt collectors in the absence of further guidance or rulemaking;
  • The complications or compliance issues that social media present for consumers and debt collectors; and
  • The costs and benefits of using “mini-Miranda” warnings in communications over social media.
In addition to how the debt collection community communicates with their debtors, The CFPB is also evaluating the new means by which data is being conveyed.   Once again, the Debt Collection Attorneys at Marcadis Singer, PA believe it is entirely appropriate that we embrace and understand the new technologies, and have clear cut guidelines to help protect both creditor and debtor.
In terms of data transfer the following are under consideration:
  • The availability of data about the types of information that are transferred to third-party collectors upon the purchase or placement of debt;
  • The effect of information about transferred debt on the cost of debt that is sold;
  • The current or potential systems and controls that creditors employ or could employ to monitor or oversee debt buyers;
  • The type and nature of information that debt sellers either retain and/or transfer to debt buyers;
  • The extent to which debt owners transfer or make available to third-party collectors or debt buyers information relating to: (1) disputes, (2) prior correspondence with consumers,(3) attorney representation, and (4) a consumer’s language proficiency, servicemember status, income source, or deceased status; and
  • The access rights and limitations of debt collectors to documentation related to the debt, such as the debtor- creditor account agreement, account statements, and similar documents.
If history teaches us anything, these conversations will not be quick.   They are, however necessary to keep the debt collection industry honest, vibrant, fair and secure.
More information about this initiative can be found at the link below.

Marcadis Singer, PA

5104 South Westshore Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33611
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