The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report detailing collection industry enforcement actions taken in the past year. Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau must submit annual reports to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Because the CFPB and FTC jointly enforce the FDCPA, the FTC's summary of enforcement is designed to help.
The FTC in 2014:
filed 10 new debt collection cases against 56 new defendants, more cases than the FTC has ever filed before in a given year;
resolved nine cases and obtained nearly $140 million in judgments against abusive and deceptive debt collectors, including one casein which the agency ultimately obtained a record $90.5 million in judgments. The defendants allegedly extorted payments from consumers by using threats of lawsuits and calculated campaigns to embarrass consumers by unlawfully communicating with family members, friends and coworkers;
shut down more than 20 debt collection companies employing nearly 500 collectors, and has collected $16.5 million from the judgments to date;
banned 47 companies and individuals that engaged in serious and repeated law violations from ever working in debt collection again;
filed two joint amicus briefs with the CFPB on key debt collection issues; and
co-hosted, along with the CFPB, a day-long roundtable exploring issues related to the collection of debts from Latino consumers.
According to the summary, the FTCs work over the past year has focused on:
1) egregious debt collection practices, including the case of Tobias Boyland, a former fugitive debt collector once captured in March 2011 outside a Red Roof Inn near downtown Pittsburgh;
2) security of consumer data in the buying and selling of debts; and
3) protection of limited-English-proficiency consumers from illegal debt collection practices.
The FTC also has worked to educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities under the FDCPA and the FTC Act. In 2014, the agency distributed 14.8 million printed publications about debt collection to consumers nationwide and worked to educate industry by delivering speeches, blogging, participating in industry conferences and providing education materials.