Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray Wednesday gave an update on the Bureau’s activities to a group of state attorneys general. The address covered a wide range of topics, including cooperation with AGs in debt collection regulation and rulemaking.

Cordray was speaking at the annual winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, DC. Formerly the Ohio Attorney General, Cordray noted that “we have found that we can achieve some tremendous results by working together and being great partners.”

He lauded the work of state AGs in regulating the debt collection industry, saying, “For decades, the attorneys general, along with the Federal Trade Commission, have been at the forefront of fighting unfair and deceptive practices by debt collectors.”

Cordray also noted that in many states, the AG acts as a debt collector for other agencies:

“Interestingly, this market is one that attorneys general know backward and forward, because most attorneys general not only oversee the activities of debt collectors in their states, but they are also debt collectors themselves. When you collect debts owed to the state government, or to state universities, you learn as I did that this work can and should be done the right way. But you also come to understand the many financial pressures that can lead debt collection companies and their employees to do things the wrong way. You see first-hand how some people are tempted to engage in indefensible practices just to squeeze whatever they can out of debtors, regardless of the ethics and regardless of the harm done.”

He specifically called out the changing technology environment as a major hurdle for new collection regulations, especially as it relates to the 37-year old FDCPA. Cordray noted that the ANPR issued by the Bureau (the comment for which ends tomorrow) is an important vehicle for collecting the thoughts of the AGs on debt collection.

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