ACA International, the largest trade group for the consumer debt collection industry, responded Wednesday to the announcement by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) regarding debt collection and the release of debt collection complaint data.
Following is a statement from ACA International CEO Pat Morris.
ACA anticipated the CFPBs plans to make rules regarding the collection of consumer debt and will continue to proactively work with the Bureau to include the insightful perspective of the Accounts Receivables Management (ARM) industry. We intend to carefully review the ANPR and provide relevant comments based on the insights of our membership within the defined 90 day timeframe for submission.
We have and will continue to work with the CFPB, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Congress and others at the national, state and local levels to reimagine a modern American consumer debt collection industry. Current federal debt collection laws are woefully outdated when it comes to areas such as communication, documentation, verification and statutes of limitations.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted in 1978 and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1991; neither has been substantively updated despite significant changes in American culture, technology and communication preferences. As a result, these laws create uncertainty and leave consumers and the industry susceptible to unnecessary litigation. ACA members advocate for clear definitions to collection laws to help ensure compliance while reducing unproductive litigation.
Recovery of consumer debt is the vital backbone for maintaining the health of Americas credit based economy. We agree that modernizing the nations consumer debt collection system is important so long as changes are based on commonsense solutions that preserve balance between consumer protection and the ability of a creditor or debt collector to lawfully recover debts. Modernization cant hinder the economic survival of public and private sector organizations, nor can it relinquish the personal responsibility of Americas consumers to pay what they rightfully owe.
As long-time advocates for helping consumers connect to good information, ACA agrees with the CFPB that consumer financial literacy is among the most immediate forms for consumer self-protection - being able to avoid problems in the first place and to know what you can do about it when you do experience a problem. ACA maintains a free resource called www.askdoctordebt.org which helps consumers get information about their rights when contacted about a debt.
In regard to the release by the CFPB of consumer complaints about debt collection, our industry takes its responsibility for compliance and work with consumers very seriously and will be carefully reviewing the data in the complaint database. Debt collectors want to work with consumers to find solutions and proactively resolve any complaints, which can only be done through communication. When given a chance, the industry has a high rate of success as outlined in the Better Business Bureaus 2012 report on inquiries and complaint statistics - United States collection agencies resolved 86 percent of the consumer complaints received in 2012; exceeding the national average of 77 percent for all industries.