DBA International, the largest association representing debt buyers, announced Thursday that members have amended the organization’s bylaws making Debt Buyer Certification a requirement for DBA membership by 2016.

Beginning in March 2013, DBA will be accepting applications for company and individual based certifications. Existing DBA members will have until March 2016 to become certified while new DBA members will have to become certified within two years of joining DBA.

Company certifications will be granted to debt buyers that comply with 19 uniform certification standards based on recognized industry practices.  

These standards address core issues of concern including account documentation, chain of title, consumer complaint and dispute resolution, statute of limitation compliance, vendor management, credit bureau reporting, resale and other relevant operational procedures.

Individual certifications will be required for each certified company’s chief compliance officer and will be a voluntary designation for others within the industry. Certification will be granted to those who complete industry relevant education requirements and who meet other enumerated criteria.

"By becoming a Certified Debt Buyer, our members are demonstrating to the financial services industry, regulators, and consumers that they operate pursuant to the highest ethical standards," said DBA President Mike Bendickson. “This is just one step in moving the industry forward in what has become an increasingly complex and evolving regulatory, legislative and business environment. There will be additional steps in the months and years to come as the Certification Program was purposely designed to assist the industry to continually review and improve existing standards as well as adopt new standards.”

Compliance with the standards will be monitored through limited and full compliance audits performed by independent third-party auditors as well as through a structured self-compliance audit process. Any allegations of non-conformity may be investigated. Penalties for failing to conform to standards could result in disciplinary action or a remediation agreement with the member.

The vote by the DBA membership was the final action required to implement the recommendations of the Debt Buyer Certification Task Force to the DBA Board of Directors in September 2012.

The Debt Buyer Certification Task Force was created in March 2012 to develop a national debt buyer certification program based on uniform standards of best practices.

"This is a monumental achievement for this organization, and the board would like to thank Stacey Schacter, the chair of the Certification Task Force, and the more than 50 volunteers from all segments of the industry who served as members of the task force and its subcommittees who donated their time and energies to bring the program to this point,” Bendickson added.

DBA International is currently holding the association's annual industry conference in Las Vegas.

 

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