The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published a rule that will allow the agency to supervise large consumer debt collectors for the first time. Today, the CFPB is holding a field hearing in Seattle to gather information about the consumer debt collection market from both the industry and the public.
Approximately 30 million Americans have, on average, $1,500 of debt subject to collection, according to the CFPB.
The CFPB is also publishing new questions and answers about debt collection in its Ask CFPB database. For example, whether a debt collector can still try to collect even if you are disputing the debt, or whether collectors have the right to tell others about your debt.
Under the new rule, CFPB examiners will evaluate whether debt collectors provide required disclosures, accurate information, have a consumer complaint and dispute resolution process, and communicate civilly and honestly with consumers, among other things.
Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, called on the CFPB to protect vulnerable consumers from abusive debt collection practices before the federal agency's Seattle field hearing began.
"There's been an explosion of shady debt collection tactics in recent years that have triggered a record number of complaints from consumers," says Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for Consumers Union. "Businesses have a right to collect what they are owed but not to harass consumers for debt that that has been paid off already or doesn't belong to them."
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau To Oversee Debt Collection Market (pdf) [CFPB]
Consumers Union Renews Call for Debt Collection Reforms As CFPB Prepares For October 24 Field Hearing On Topic [Consumers Union]