Essential Notices and Publications on Debt Collection from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is now the lead regulator of the ARM industry in the U.S. With expanded power from Congress, the CFPB is the first regulator to be given direct supervisory authority over collection agencies and debt buyers, including onsite examinations and business audits for larger companies. Regardless of size, every ARM firm will have to respond to and resolve each consumer complaint against it the CFPB receives.
The new regulatory dynamic was implemented fairly quickly and is now in full swing. Below are resources for ARM companies of all sizes. Please note that we update these documents regularly. If you have anything to suggest we add, please email editor@insideARM.com.
Essentials for Larger Collection Agencies
($10 million+ in revenue)
Final Rule Defining Larger Participants of the Consumer Debt Collection Market (effective Jan. 2, 2013)
CFPB Supervisory Highlights: Spring 2014 (May 22, 2014)
Essentials for All Collection Agencies
Register your company with CFPB complaints system, Consumer Response (Required for ALL ARM companies)
Consumer Response Complaints Database (now includes debt collection complaints)
CFPB Bulletin on Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Debt Collection Practices (issued July 10, 2013)
Bulletin on Representations Regarding Effect of Debt Payments on Credit Reports and Scores (issued July 10, 2013)
Other Important Debt Collection Documents from the CFPB
On November 6, 2013 the CFPB took the first step toward issuing new consumer protection rules for the debt collection market. Through its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), the Bureau collected information on a wide array of issues. The 114 page document contains 162 questions about debt collection practices and the consumer experience. The comment period ended February 28, 2014. By the end of the year, we expect the CFPB to be making specific rule proposals for debt collection.
For a high-level look into the comments from prominent industry and consumer groups, consider insideARM’s report Assessing the Impact of CFPB Rules on Debt Collectors.
Issued on March 20, 2014, this is the latest of the annual FDCPA reports required by Congress. The report details enforcement actions, debt collection complaints, eduction and outreach, and supervision of collection agencies.
Issued on May 28, 2014, this is one of the twice-yearly reports required by Congress that details all of the CFPB’s activities across the various industries it regulates. The report details research, supervision, enforcement actions, and rulemaking.
Published in November 2013, this is the most recent annual report from the Office of the CFPB’s Ombudsman, an impartial advocate for a fair process between consumers, financial institutions, and the CFPB. The Ombudsman’s recommendations carry a lot of weight and the CFPB respects the suggestions made in the report.
Part of an occasional series of publications from the CFPB’s Office of Research, this May 2014 report examines the impact on consumer credit scores of medical debt tradelines placed primarily by third party debt collection agencies.
On July 10, 2013, the CFPB published five action letters that consumers can consider using when corresponding with debt collectors.
- Needs more information on the debt: This letter may be useful for a consumer who may not immediately recognize the debt as their own or for those who want to find out more about the debt before they pay it. View “more information” letter.
- Wants to dispute the debt and for the debt collector to prove responsibility: This letter tells the collector that the consumer is disputing the debt and instructs the debt collector to stop contacting the consumer until they provide evidence that the consumer is responsible for that debt. View “dispute and proof” letter.
- Wants to restrict how and when a debt collector can contact them: The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from contacting a consumer about a debt at a time or place they should know is inconvenient. With this letter, the consumer is able to tell the debt collector how they would like to be contacted. View the “contact restriction” letter.
- Has hired a lawyer: This letter template provides a way for the consumer to give the debt collector the lawyer’s information and instruct the collector to contact only the lawyer. View the “hired a lawyer” letter.
- Wants the debt collector to stop any and all contact: Consumers have the right to tell a debt collector to stop all communication. It is important to note that stopping contact from a debt collector does not cancel the debt or prohibit the collector from potentially pursuing other remedies, such as filing a lawsuit. View the “stop contact” letter.
The Bulletin, issued on September 4, 2013, specifically addresses furnishers’ obligations to “review all relevant information” they receive in connection with disputes forwarded by CRAs. Collection agencies are considered to be furnishers.
The chart names the heads of divisions within the CFPB and gives an idea of how the agency is structured (current as of April 9, 2014)
Articulates the mission, vision, goals, and strategies for the CFPB and the steps leaders plan to take to achieve them. The CFPB’s current version of its strategic plan was written, endorsed, and published in April 2013.
Database of Q&A provided by the CFPB to consumers on hundreds of consumer finance topics. Approximately 70 questions are related to Debt Collection. If you get tired of clicking through to each individual question, you can download a nicely compiled and organized PDF here (for a modest fee of $49)
Compliance with the CFPB is increasingly becoming a technology acquisition exercise. Myriad solutions exist to help ARM track their operational exposure. Learn how one collection agency used voice analytics to decrease consumer complaints by 63%.
insideARM.com Coverage of the CFPB
- 08/29/2014 – NARCA President Among New Members of CFPB Consumer Protection Advisory Board
- 08/27/2014 – CFPB Readying Action Against College Over Debt Sales and Collection Methods
- 08/26/2014 – State AGs Miss the Mark on Business Records in FDCPA Rulemaking Comments
- 08/26/2014 – CFPB Takes $7 million Action Against Debt-Settlement Payment Processor Global Client Solutions
- 08/22/2014 – ALERT: Last Day to Comment on CFPB Debt Collection Survey Proposal
- 08/21/2014 – FTC Joins CFPB in Filing Amicus Brief in Debt Collection Case
- 08/21/2014 – CFPB Takes Action Against Auto Finance Company for Distorting Borrower Credit Reports
- 08/07/2014 – A High-Level Discussion of Debt Collectors, Involving no Debt Collectors
- 08/07/2014 – Senators Push For Investigation of USA Discounters’ ‘Aggressive’ Debt Collection Tactics
- 08/07/2014 – CFPB Leader in Consumer Response to Speak at Columbia Ultimate’s 2014 Art of Success Conference
- 08/07/2014 – Debt Collection Attorney Oversight Called Into Question – Literally
- 08/04/2014 – Prior Rulings a Challenge for CFPB in Suit Against Debt Collection Law Firm
- 07/30/2014 – CFPB Extending Comment Period for Consumer Narratives in Complaints
- 07/29/2014 – 2014 Data Shows Overall Rise in Debt Collection Lawsuits
- 07/25/2014 – Executive Change: CFPB Enforcement Attorney Appointed Affirm Chief Compliance Officer
From the CFPB's Blog
- 08/28/2014 – Save the date, Indianapolis!
- 08/26/2014 – Working together to protect student veterans
- 08/18/2014 – Plan and protect your finances with a my Social Security account
- 08/18/2014 – A new school year, a new resource for parents and kids
- 08/11/2014 – Consumer advisory: Virtual currencies and what you should know about them
- 08/06/2014 – Alerting colleges about secret banking contracts
- 07/30/2014 – Your Money, Your Goals: Financial empowerment tools for social services
- 07/29/2014 – We’ve extended the comment period for our complaint narrative policy
- 07/29/2014 – Closing the book on Colfax
- 07/23/2014 – Consumer advisory: Don’t fall for a foreclosure relief scam or bogus legal help