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FDCPA

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from abusive, unfair, and deceptive practices by third-party debt collectors. The law details when and how a collector may contact a debtor. The government enforcer of the law has historically been the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but some regulatory duties may be shared with the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection housed within the Federal Reserve, created in 2010.

The FDCPA is a strict civil liability law, which means that a consumer need not prove actual damages in order to claim statutory damages of up to $1,000 per violation plus reasonable attorney fees.

It is commonly believed that the FDCPA will be amended and/or updated in the 112th Congress (2011-2012).

The complete Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (PDF, 326 KB)

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CFPB Takes Action Against Medical Debt Collector, Largely For Lack of Policies and Procedures

Yesterday, the CFPB announced an enforcement action against a medical debt collection company for mishandling consumer credit reporting disputes and preventing consumers from exercising important debt collection rights. The company is ordered to provide over $5.4 million in relief to harmed consumers, and pay a $500,000 penalty. At the core is a lack of adequate policies and procedures.

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Now in the CFPB’s Sights: Collectors Hired by State & Local Government Agencies

These collectors operate outside the purview of the CFPB and with the full authority of those government agencies. These collectors frequently charge exorbitant fees and often hold the ability to effect wage garnishments, arrest, and even foreclosure against consumers. The consumers most vulnerable economically, are often caught in this cycle compounding the possibility of mistreatment.

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Medical Debt Collector and its Owner Sued by Pennsylvania Attorney General

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced that her office filed a civil complaint against James Havassy and his firm, Hamilton Law Group, P.C., a medical debt collection company. According to the announcement, Havassy is accused of using the state statute commonly known as Relative’s Liability Procedure to coerce payments from debtors’ relatives, who were not responsible for the debt.

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Oral Arguments in CFPB v. Hanna Suggest Long Road Ahead

Oral arguments on the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss the CFPB action against the Georgia law firm Frederick J Hanna & Associates P.C. were held on June 3rd. The stakes are high, not only for the Hanna law firm, but also any law firm that handles a high volume of consumer debt collection matters. The case should be front and center for all law firms practicing in this space.

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No FDCPA Violations in Simon After Remand

Two years ago, in Simon v. FIA Card Services, N.A., the Third Circuit held that alleged violations of the FDCPA resulting from conduct in a bankruptcy case were not precluded by the Bankruptcy Code. Now on remand, the district court has granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment, holding that the alleged irregularities with the subpoena were immaterial and would not mislead a competent attorney regarding a consumer’s rights.

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Graduation: ARM-U 2015 Highlights Need for Regulatory Clarity

Some questions had definite answers from panelists; however, many of the questions highlighted confusion within the laws and regulations themselves. While the FTC requires one thing, the CFPB may require something entirely different — and often contradictory. And because there is little cohesion among state laws, compliance suffers across the board. Still, even recognizing the areas of confusion can help an agency in their compliance plan. Better still, though, would be some kind of definitive answer.

Enforcement

FTC Joins NY and GA in Action Against 3 Collection Agencies

The Primary Group is alleged to have sent consumers multiple text messages, and, in most cases, failing to disclose the company as a debt collector. Per Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection: “[Debt collectors] can’t harass or lie to you, whether they send a text, email, or call you.” She also stated that “legitimate debt collectors know the rules.”