WASHINGTON (3/27/13)--Debt collection will remain a major Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) focus in 2013 and the agency will keep expanding the reach of its supervisory authority in this area, according to the CFPB's second annual report to the U.S. Congress on enforcement of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
The report, released Tuesday, noted that although the CFPB expects to expand its complaint system to include debt collection in the first half of this year, since it has not yet done so the data discussed in the report is based on complaints submitted to the Federal Trade Commission through its Consumer Sentinel database in 2012.
The report states that the FTC continues to receive more complaints about the debt collection industry than any other specific industry.
The report notes that first-party creditors are not generally subject to the FDCPA. However, the FDCPA applies to credit unions and others that regularly collect debts for other unrelated institutions, including under reciprocal service agreements. A credit union that uses a name other than its own in its collection efforts would also be covered.
The CFPB noted these other highlights of the report:
For the first time in five years, the most common category of FDCPA complaint received by the FTC was "demanding an amount other than is permitted by law or contract." This category includes complaints claiming a debt collector was attempting to collect a debt the consumer did not owe, including a debt discharged in bankruptcy, or a larger debt than what the consumer owed;
Among the practices targeted by the FTC was "phantom debt collection," meaning attempts by debt collectors "to collect on debts--often related to payday loans--that either did not exist or were not owed" to them; and
Another target was misleading practices in connection with attempts to collect time-barred debts.
Credit unions are not addressed in the report but CUNA will be monitoring developments in this area closely and meeting with the CFPB.