CFPB issues 2016 FDCPA report

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The CFPB has issued its fifth annual Fair Debt Collection Practices Act report covering the CFPB’s activities in 2015.

In the background section of the report, the CFPB provides various statistics about the debt collection industry and consumer debt. The CFPB observes that there has been a significant increase in consumer FDCPA litigation, with 4,316 cases in 2007 and 11,697 cases in 2015.

According to the report’s section on debt collection complaints, the CFPB handled approximately 85,200 complaints in 2015, which was 3,100 fewer than in 2014. (It is unclear whether the 2015 number includes payday loan complaints which, according to recent testimony given by Director Cordray to the House Financial Services Committee, were wrongly classified as debt collection complaints.) The most common complaint was about attempts to collect a debt that the consumer claimed was not owed and the second-most-common issue was communication tactics.

In the report’s section on the CFPB’s supervision of debt collectors that qualify as “larger participants,” the CFPB describes the following FDCPA violations or circumstances creating risks of FDCPA violations found by its examiners:

  • Failing to state in subsequent phone calls that the call was from a debt collector
  • Failing to honor requests to cease communications with the consumer or maintain adequate systems to comply with FDCPA requirements regarding communications with consumers, such as when a collector knows a consumer is represented by an attorney or knows the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving calls at work
  • Use of false, deceptive or misleading statements to collect a debt, such as statements regarding the collector’s credit reporting practices with regard to deleting tradelines and investigating disputes and threats to use garnishment against borrowers who were not eligible for garnishment

With regard to rulemaking, Director Cordray, in his introductory message, stated that the CFPB “continues its effort to develop the first comprehensive federal regulations covering debt collection.  We are considering provisions to ensure that debt collectors have sufficient information to collect the debt, prevent unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices, inform consumers of their rights, and provide interpretation of some sections of the FDCPA.” He offered no timetable for rulemaking, indicating only that the CFPB “is preparing to convene one or more Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panels before issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking.”

The report also describes fifteen debt collection enforcement actions filed by the CFPB in 2015 and three pre-2015 collection actions that continued in 2015. (Among those actions are the CFPB’s actions against Universal Debt & Payment Solutions, LLCNDG Financial Corp., Westlake Services, LLC, Eric V. Sancho, Corinthian Colleges, and CashCall, Inc.

The report incorporates information provided to the CFPB by the FTC in its letter to the CFPB on the FTC’s 2015 debt collection activities. (The FTC letter is an Appendix to the report.)

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