Set your calendars, folks. February 6 will be a busy day on Capitol Hill, at least in the House of Representatives. The House Financial Services Committee scheduled two hearings that are of interest to the industry.
At 10:00 AM Eastern, the full Committee will hold its semi-annual review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), titled "Protecting Consumers or Allowing Consumer Abuse?" Later in the day at 2:00 PM Eastern, the Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing called, "Fake It Till They Make It: How Bad Actors Use Astroturfing to Manipulate Regulators, Disenfranchise Consumers and Subvert the Rulemaking Process."
At the most recent semi-annual CFPB review in October, Director Kathleen Kraninger came under fire from certain members of the committee who stringently criticized the CFPB's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for debt collection. One of the main items of concern was the alleged "unlimited" amount of electronic communications debt collectors would be allowed to send under the rule. Other areas of criticism went almost lock-step with criticism expressed by consumer advocates at prior congressional hearings. A part of the last hearing was also dominated by some partisan squabbling about whether Rep. Maloney (D-NY) did or did not call Director Kraninger "completely worthless."
The hearings will be live-streamed here.
The first hearing--the semi-annual review--will likely contain a similar partisan timbre as the prior hearing and likely contain a similar line of questioning of the CFPB's director. The second hearing of the day should be interesting to listen to as well. While there are many "good actors" in the debt collection industry who genuinely try to comply with myriad laws and regulations, while also doing right by the consumer, it's important to keep informed of what the bad actors are doing as they harm the reputation of the industry as a whole. Unfortunately, the tone of recent House Financial Services Committee hearings will likely mean that even the good actors might be lumped into the category of "bad actors." This might be due to a lack of education on the difference or due to hard-engrained political positions that don't allow a full, unbiased view of the issues. In other words, the same old thing.