The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a formal notice that it will mail surveys to consumers to learn about their experiences with debt collectors. Specifically, the survey will ask whether consumers have been contacted by collectors and whether they recognized the debt being collected.

The survey will include questions about interactions with collectors, preferences for being contacted, opinions about potential regulation of debt collectors and knowledge of legal rights pertaining to debt collection.

The CFPB plans to use the information as part of its rulemaking concerning debt collection, as well as for further research purposes. The proposal for the survey will be subject to a 60-day comment period, which began last Friday. Information on the survey includes:

    •    Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the CFPB, including whether the information will have practical utility;
    •    The accuracy of the CFPB's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used;
    •    Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and,
    •    Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

The CFPB states it is interested in "improving the adequacy of information transferred with debts when debts are placed with a collector or sold to a debt buyer. The Bureau would also like to improve the validation, dispute and verification processes to ensure that consumers are receiving accurate and useful information and have the ability to dispute invalid debts.

In addition, the CFPB is considering rules governing communications between collectors, consumers, and third parties, including issues relating to technologies introduced in the 36 years since the FDCPA was enacted."

The CFPB plans to take between two and three months to execute the survey and collect responses. After that, it will need additional time to compile the data. In total, the CFPB predicts that it will have a report on the survey ready for public distribution in about six to eight months. It is not known whether this additional time will delay upcoming debt collection rules.

The CFPB projects that the total cost of the survey will be around $200,000.

ACA International on Tuesday is holding a quarterly CFPB update teleseminar, which will include an overview of ACA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) filing, next steps in the rulemaking process and other CFPB news. On Feb. 28, the CFPB ended the comment period of its ANPR.  

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