The four trade groups that represent the nation's accounts receivables management industry are calling on Congress to retain the Federal Trade Commission as the exclusive regulator of debt purchasers and collectors.

The trade groups are working together to oppose proposed legislation that would place the industry under a new authority.

DBA International, ACA International, the Commercial Law League of America and the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys represent thousands of U.S. businesses that purchase and collect delinquent consumer debt.

Since 1978, the accounts receivables management industry has been regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The FDCPA sets legal standards under which debt buyers and collectors conduct their business.

The FTC has enforced FDCPA since its inception.

However, one provision of the regulatory reform bill being debated in Congress might strip the FTC of its power to enforce FDCPA and move those powers to a new bureau regulated by the Federal Reserve banks.

"We are not running from regulation, we simply want an appropriate regulator," the groups said in a joint statement last week. The proposed new bureau "is geared toward banks and others depository institutions. The FTC is the appropriate venue for our industry. We understand Congress's intent to create a new bureau, and agree there is a need for fresh oversight in many areas. But the FTC has done a commendable job protecting the rights of consumers and bringing law enforcement action against outliers in our industry. Moving regulatory authority over the debt collection industry to a new bureau with unprecedented powers would neither help consumers nor businesses, creating uncertainty that would hinder effective compliance with existing regulations."

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