The CFPB has released its 2018 Annual Report regarding the CFPB’s and FTC’s actions taken in 2018 to combat illegal debt collection practices. The CFPB and FTC in conjunction with other agencies, share enforcement authority under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In January of 2012 the agencies entered into a memorandum of understanding that provides for coordination in enforcement, sharing of supervisory information and consumer complaints, and collaboration on consumer education.
In an effort to shed light on the activities taken in the furtherance of these efforts, the Dodd-Frank Act requires the CFPB to release an annual report to Congress the annual progress that the agencies made in their effort to combat illegal debt collection practices.
In its 2018 Annual Report, the CFPB reported that in 2017 it took a variety of actions to combat illegal debt collection practices. The CFPB fielded roughly 84,500 consumer complaints and filed lawsuits when actions were discovered by examiners that were deemed to be violations of the FDCPA, resolving one FDCPA enforcement case which resulted in consumer relief and payment of civil money penalties.
The CFPB also provided the public with tools to deal with aggressive debt collectors, including educational materials in the “Ask CFPB” interactive online tool, and offering five sample letters to be used by consumers when interacting with debt collectors. Additionally, the CFPB reported that in 2017 it continued to research the debt collection market and its impact on consumers.
The FTC’s activities included filing ten cases under the FDCPA, which resulted in more than $64 million in judgments and banning 13 companies and individuals who were involved in serious and repeated violations of law from ever working in debt collection again. Most recently, the FTC banned companies that it deemed to be operating a deceptive and abusive debt collection scheme from the debt collection industry and from buying or selling debt, through settlements done in conjunction with the New York Attorney General’s Office debt collectors. In connection with those debt collection schemes, the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office, imposed fines of more than $48 million, and issued prison sentences of 7 years to two involved parties.
The FTC also focused on consumer education through its distribution of print publication and online production of videos and other online materials that it made available for consumers.
More information on the CFPB and FTC 2018 Fair Debt Collection Practice Act can be found here. More information regarding the FTC and New York Attorney General’s order against those companies deemed to be operating deceptive and abusive debt collection schemes can be found here.