FTC and CFPB Continuing to Combat Unlawful Debt Collection Tactics

While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) acknowledge that illegal debt collection practices remain a serious and widespread problem in the United States – resulting in nearly 85,000 complaints to the CFPB in 2017 alone and many more to the FTC – the two agencies have also spoken out on their revamped efforts to combat these practices and hold debt collectors accountable.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with Acting Chairman Ohlhausen and all our partners at the FTC,” said Bureau 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.”

“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.

A joint report from the FTC and CFPB for 2017 claims that follow-up investigations of consumer-complaints revealed a “large number” of FDCPA violations (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act); the FTC was involved in ten cases against 42 defendants, resulting in over $64 million in judgments, and thirteen debt collection agencies were officially banned from the business for “serious and repeated violations.”

Based on the report’s findings, many consumer advocates believe that better protection against debt-collectors is necessary for consumers. “Far too many consumers continue to report that debt collectors hound them about money they have already paid off or never owed in the first place,” says Suzanne Martindale, a senior attorney at Consumers Union. “Debt collectors often lack proof that the debt even existed let alone that the person they are targeting is responsible for it. We need reasonable standards and better oversight to ensure consumers are treated fairly and protected from abusive debt collection practices.”

Here is a summary of the FTC’s efforts to combat illegal debt collection practices in 2017:

  • Worked to educate businesses and consumers about their rights under the FDCPA as well as the FTC Act;
  • Focused primarily on “egregious” debt collection practices, such as “phantom” debt collection;
  • Distributed nearly 14 million print publications to banks, credit unions, libraries, schools, police departments, non-profits, government agencies, and other businesses;
  • Logged over 60 million total views on its webpages, including over 581,000 YouTube views of FTC videos and nearly 200,000 English subscribers (and over 50,000 Spanish subscribers) to its consumer blogs.

And here is a summary of the CFPB’s efforts to combat illegal debt collection practices in 2017:

  • Handled nearly 85,000 complaints related to debt collection practices;
  • Revealed numerous FDCPA violations in follow-up investigations and supervisory examinations;
  • Resolved an FDCPA enforcement case, which resulted in a civil penalty and consumer relief, and also continued litigation for five similar cases;
  • Conducted non-public investigations of debt collection agencies to identify violations of the FDCPA and/or Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA);
  • Provided educational materials on debt collection practices, which remain popular on the online “Ask CFPB” tool;
  • Created five sample letters for consumers to use when communicating with debt collectors, which have been downloaded over half-a-million times;
  • Continued research of the debt collection market, online debt sales, and the market’s effect on consumers.

Remember: you have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Debt collectors are not allowed to “robocall” you or place calls at inconvenient hours without your expressed consent, and cannot contact you at work if your employer disapproves of such calls. If you’ve been a victim of unlawful debt collection practices, contact Agruss Law Firm for a free consultation. We have settled thousands of debt harassment cases, and we’re ready to help you, too.

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