CFPB, FTC issue joint report on illegal debt collection practices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, which share enforcement responsibilities under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act released a joint report on their efforts to combat illegal debt collection practices in 2017.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have released a joint report on their efforts to combat illegal debt collection practices in 2017.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the bureau and the FTC share enforcement responsibilities, along with other agencies.

In 2017, the bureau’s activities to combat illegal debt collection practices included fielding consumer complaints, filing lawsuits, and providing the public with tools to deal with aggressive debt collectors. During 2017, the CFPB handled approximately 84,500 debt collection complaints, making it one of the most prevalent topics of complaints about consumer financial products or services received by the bureau.

The agency filed briefs as amicus curiae in two cases in the federal courts of appeals arising under the FDCPA. It resolved one FDCPA enforcement case, resulting in both consumer relief and a payment to the civil penalty fund, and continued to litigate five others.

The bureau provided consumer debt collection educational materials, which have consistently remained among the most-viewed categories in “Ask CFPB,” an interactive online consumer education tool. It also offered five sample letters that consumers may use when they interact with debt collectors, which had been downloaded more than 517,000 times as of December 2017.

Additionally, the CFPB continued research projects to improve its understanding of the debt collection market and its impact on consumers, including a survey of consumer views on debt, the 2017 Credit Card Market Report, and its study of online debt sales, which have aided in the ongoing development of a potential debt collection rule.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with Acting Chairman Ohlhausen and all our partners at the FTC,” said CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney. “From now on, we will be working closely with the FTC to enforce the FDCPA while protecting the legal rights of all in a manner that is efficient, effective, and accountable.”

In January 2012, they entered into a memorandum of understanding that provides for coordination in enforcement, sharing of supervisory information and consumer complaints, and collaboration on consumer education. The agencies work closely to coordinate their respective efforts to protect consumers, including meeting regularly to discuss ongoing and upcoming law enforcement against collectors.

“The FTC will remain vigilant in our efforts to monitor this industry and stop unlawful conduct that harms both consumers and legitimate businesses and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, including the CFPB, on this important issue,” said FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen.

Fredrikson & Byron Law