Debt buyer Encore Capital Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ECPG) announced late Monday that it has created and adopted a Consumer Bill of Rights. The company said the document codifies the Encore’s commitment to conduct business ethically, engage in respectful and constructive dialogue with consumers, and play a positive role in consumers’ financial recovery.
Encore Capital is the nation’s largest publicly-traded debt buyer by revenue. Combining fair business practices, sophisticated analytics, and broad investments in data and behavioral science, Encore Capital and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Midland Credit Management, Inc., aim to set the industry standard for consumer conduct.
Key tenets of the Bill of Rights include:
- Contacting consumers in a timely and effective manner, resolving accounts quickly and honestly, and ensuring collection practices that promote settlement and preserve dignity;
- Establishing forgiveness and hardship guidelines, including the cessation of collection efforts when permanent hardship is demonstrated;
- Suspending interest or fees when a consumer is making timely payments on an established plan;
- Safeguarding consumer information;
- Implementing the fair and reasonable use of litigation to resolve an outstanding obligation, and seeking to avoid litigation whenever possible; and
- Committing to not resell defaulted consumer accounts in the normal course of business.
“We’ve worked hard, consulting with consumer advocacy groups and others, to identify the issues and debt-collection practices that impact consumers most. In this document, we’re embracing that feedback to take an industry-leading approach to help our consumers regain their purchasing power despite the lingering economic challenges,” J. Brandon Black, Encore Capital’s Chief Executive Officer, said. “Encore has long been committed to the principles outlined in the Consumer Bill of Rights, and we are dedicated to building relationships with consumers based on honesty and integrity.”
Fundamental to this initiative is Encore Capital’s long-standing commitment to engage in a dialogue that helps consumers meet both their past and current financial responsibilities. By offering significant discounts, freezing interest charges, and negotiating long-term payment plans, Encore Capital has helped two million consumers repay their financial obligations over the past decade.
“This document marks an important milestone for Encore and our industry,” Black said. “Our employees value and respect our consumers, and we look forward to additional opportunities to advance industry standards and uphold consumer rights.”
Encore Capital’s full Consumer Bill of Rights can be found at http://www.encorecapital.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Consumer-Bill-of-Rights.pdf.