The Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC) last Thursday submitted comments on the CFPB’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for debt collection. Consumer-Relations-Consortium-ANPR-debt-collection-response-final to nearly all of the 162 questions (plus sub-questions) posed by the Bureau. In a few cases, response was left to other industry associations that are closer to those particular topics.

“One primary objective of the CRC is to collaborate with consumer groups to find common ground and common sense solutions to debt collection issues consumers confront today,” noted Stephanie Eidelman, a member of the CRC’s executive steering committee.  “After meeting with a variety of consumer advocates over the course of recent months, the CRC was able to incorporate input from these groups into its positions on the ANPR.”

While the consumer advocates and members of the CRC did not agree on all issues, there was common ground identified in several areas including some of the following:

  • Consumers are often concerned about whether a debt collector is legitimate and truly authorized to collect an account. Potential solutions for this could include requiring that debt collectors register with the CFPB which would make the list of registered debt collectors available to the public, and requiring the seller of an account to provide a “goodbye” letter to a consumer, providing information about the purchaser, which would further reduce issues regarding debt collector legitimacy and authority.
  • Pertinent information about an account, including dispute information gathered by the creditor and collection agencies, should be shared with all subsequent debt collectors and included with the debt when sold.
  • Balance information is often concerning to consumers.  A uniform system should be implemented to explain to the consumer how the balance was calculated.
  • The validation notice language should be simplified.  Further, the validation notice could contain a link to additional disclosures promulgated and approved by the CFPB and included on the debt collector website.
  • Voicemail messages today are found to be ineffective by many debt collectors as well as consumers. If a voicemail is left, there should be systems in place to ensure that information about the debt is not disclosed to a third party.  This may best be achieved by use of a pre-Foti message stating that the name of the consumer, the name of the collector and and a call back number, but would not provide the mini-miranda. This is an area ripe for further research and testing.

The CRC’s response team of 25 was led by John Rossman, of Moss & Barnett. The members are grateful to John, and all of those who devoted countless hours to this significant effort in order to ensure their voice could be heard.

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