Joann Needleman is leader of Clark Hill’s Consumer Financial Services Regulatory & Compliance group. Joann has extensive litigation experience in state and federal courts, successfully defending creditors agains claims brought under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as state statutes. She provides counsel, consultation and litigation services to financial institutions, law firms and debt buyers throughout the country. Joann is the current President of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys (NARCA). She also serves on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Advisory Board.
The recent frenzy regarding the collection of time-barred debt has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. What is highly touted as consumer protection is in actuality greater consumer harm.
Welcome to the Culture of Unaccountability. There are approximately 318 million people in the United States and 75 to 100 million of them have completely refused to communicate with their original lender or to the entity to which they may owe money.
Just in time for the summer movie season, one court has given debt collection litigation lawyers yet another reason to disconnect the telephone and computer. Now identifying yourself as a lawyer or a law firm on a voice mail or telephone message is sufficient facts to state a claim for a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) violation.
We are bombarded daily with articles, blogs and more about the “widespread” abuse of consumers by the debt collection industry. Nobody should be treated unfairly or with any lack of respect, especially in times of financial distress. But is there really widespread abuse, or just cries of a small minority with powerful voices to back them up?
More striking than this week’s proposed rules and reforms in New York for debt collection lawsuits were the inflammatory and biased remarks by the chief judge, who in fact was advocating for one party over the other, while at the same time implying his own judges have been unable to perform their jobs of adjudicating debt collection cases.
A recent New Jersey Appellate Court decision offers an extensive analysis of debt buyers’ use of prior creditors’ records to obtain judgment on purchased debt in New Jersey. The decision can be useful guidance in other jurisdictions.
A recent ruling by an appellate court took a very troubling position on debt collectors’ use of settlement offers to resolve debt. An ARM legal expert wonders if the ruling will result in an unintended consequence: more collection lawsuits.
One of the highlights of the DBA International conference was a conversation with the CFPB. Incoming DBA President Bryan Faliero moderated an informal panel discussion with three key division leaders: Tom Pahl, managing counsel for Regulations; Scott Pluta, assistant director for the Office of Consumer Response; and Larry DeMille-Wagman, acting director of Collection Supervision.
Whether unintended or not, the CFPB’s Rules and Bulletins are driving small businesses from the debt collection industry. Dodd-Frank was enacted to prevent “too big to fail.” Small businesses and law firms in the debt collection industry are losing their ground in this current regulatory environment. Sadly, they are simply “too small to succeed.”