DBA International announced Wednesday it is accepting applications from collection law firms and third-party collection agencies that wish to earn DBA’s Certified Professional Receivables Company designation.

DBA, the largest association representing debt buyers, developed and manages a Debt Buyer Certification Program for its member companies. The certification program represents a comprehensive national standard of industry best practices, according to the association. It stresses responsible consumer protection, increased transparency and improved educational and operational standards within the industry.

Version 2.1 of the program was developed after a six-month review that studied whether an expansion would provide enhanced benefits to certified debt-buying companies and fill a need within the broader collection industry.

"Soon after the March 2013 launch of the Debt Buyer Certification Program, DBA began to receive calls from collection law firms and third-party collection agencies inquiring whether they could become certified” said Bryan Faliero, president of the DBA Board of Directors. "While the certification program was originally designed for debt buying companies, the increasing number of inquiries prompted DBA to examine the feasibility of program expansion."

Added Amy Anuk, chair of the Certification Council, "Expanding the certification program is a critical step in strengthening compliance integration between debt buying companies and their vendors, assuring the consumer that the same rigorous standards are being upheld."

Highlighted changes contained in Version 2.1 include:

DBA adopted nine new standards of best practices focused on activities performed by collection law firms and third-party collection agencies for a total of 29 program standards. New standards include subject matter associated with consumer complaints, trust accounts, bonding/malpractice insurance, professional conduct and the client-vendor relationship

The 20 existing standards for debt-buying companies contained in version 2.0 of the Certification Program remained unchanged in version 2.1

Grouped the 29 program standards into four areas:

Series A – Standards that apply to all certification designated companies (i.e. debt-buying companies, collection law firms and third-party collection agencies)
Series B – Standards that apply exclusively to debt-buying companies
Series C – Standards that apply exclusively to collection law firms
Series D – Standards that apply exclusively to third-party collection agencies

Jan Stieger, DBA’s executive director said, "While the expansion of the certification program is good from a compliance management standpoint for certified debt-buying companies, perhaps more important are the benefits it provides to consumers through the adoption of rigorous and auditable standards that go above and beyond that required in state and federal laws."

DBA estimates that since its 2013 adoption of the certification program, more than 50% of receivables purchased on the secondary market are held by certified debt-buying companies.

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