On August 25, 2021, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced that a checklist of the requirements needed to obtain a California Collection License is now available on Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS). The application will be available on NMLS starting September 1, 2021. After an initial application is received, instructions will follow on completing fingerprinting requirements.
The Debt Collection Licensing Act (Fin. Code § 100000 et seq.) (DCLA) requires any person engaging in the business of debt collection in California to be licensed by the DFPI. Debt collectors collecting debt in the state of California must submit an application on or before Friday, December 31, 2021. Once a debt collector submits an application, it may continue operating as a debt collector in California while the application is pending. If an application is submitted after December 31, 2021, the debt collector will be required to wait for the issuance of a license before operating in California. (Fin. Code § 100000.5(c)).
The following entities are required to obtain a license to engage in the business of debt collection in California pursuant to the DCLA:
- Any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly, on the person’s own behalf or on behalf of others, engages in debt collection.
- Any person who composes and sells, or offers to compose and sell, forms, letters, and other collection media used or intended to be used for debt collection.
- Any person who engages in the business of a debt buyer. A debt buyer is any person or entity who regularly engages in the business of purchasing charged-off consumer debt for collection purposes, whether it collects the debt itself, hires a third party for collection, or hires an attorney-at-law for collection litigation.
Since the licensing requirement goes into effect on January 1, 2022, the DFPI strongly recommends that debt collectors start gathering the necessary information to ensure the timely filing of their application by December 31, 2021. Failure to submit an application by this deadline and continued operation without a license may result in enforcement actions.
To avoid missing important updates, the DFPI strongly encourages those entities which are subject to the new licensing requirement to check the DFPI website periodically and subscribe to the DFPI’s email subscription service.