The Minnesota Department of Commerce has expanded its criminal background check requirements for debt collectors, effective Aug. 1.

Under Minn. Stat. § 332.35, as amended by H.F. 2335, no registration or license will be issued for a collector if, within the past five years, the individual has:

  • Been convicted in any court of fraud or felony;
  • Been convicted of any misdemeanor involving identity theft or other financial crimes;
  • Been unable to certify whether a civil judgment has been entered against the individual; or
  • Had a license to practice law revoked or involuntarily suspended.

A licensed Minnesota collection agency must establish procedures to follow when screening an individual debt collector applicant for initial registration and at renewal. 
The screening process for initial collector registration must be done at the time of hiring and must include the following: (1) a national criminal history record search; (2) an attorney licensing search; and (3) a county criminal history search for all counties where the applicant resided for the five years preceding the registration.

Licensed collection agencies are specifically required to use a vendor that is a member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, or its equivalent, to conduct the screening process.

The screening process for renewal of individual collector registration must include a national criminal history record search and a criminal history search for all counties where the individual resided during the immediate preceding year. Such screenings must take place no more than 60 days before the license expiration or renewal date. A renewal screening is not required if the individual collector’s initial background screening occurred within the preceding 12 months. A screening will be required, however, for all subsequent annual registration renewals.

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