The Federal Trade Commission sent a summary of its 2015 work on debt collection practices to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to include in the CFPB’s annual report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The FTC and the CFPB share enforcement responsibilities under the FDCPA.
According to the FTC’s summary, in 2016 the agency:
- led the first federal-state-local enforcement initiative targeting deceptive and abusive debt collection practices, an effort that has so far resulted in over 70 law enforcement partners bringing more than 130 actions;
- prosecuted a sweep of cases against collectors that used unlawful text messages to collect debts;
- filed 12 new cases against 52 new defendants (a record number of debt collection enforcement actions for the FTC in a year);
- resolved nine cases and obtained nearly $94 million in judgments;
- banned 30 companies and individuals that engaged in serious and repeated violations of law from ever working in debt collection again;
- published a list of every company and individual banned by federal court order from engaging in debt collection activities;
- filed three amicus briefs, two of them jointly with the CFPB, on key debt collection issues; and
- hosted three Debt Collection Dialogues, to promote a more robust exchange of information between the debt collection industry and the state and federal governmental agencies that regulate their conduct.
The FTC has also worked to educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities under the FDCPA and the FTC Act.
"One of the really important things we did [in 2015] was talk with the debt collection industry,” said FTC Assistant Director, Division of Financial Practices Christopher Koegel in a blog post. “At all three, sold-out houses, we brought together the debt collection industry with the state and federal agencies that regulate them – allowing all perspectives to be heard.”
In addition to reaching consumers through approximately 16,000 community-based organizations and national groups, in 2015 the FTC distributed 17.4 million print publications to libraries, police departments, schools, non-profit, banks, credit unions, other businesses and government agencies.
FTC website pages logged more than 102 million views, its videos were seen more than 471,000 times at YouTube.com/FTC and its consumer blogs reached 93,052 (English) and 34,892 (Spanish) email subscribers.
Also last year, the FTC organized five common ground conferences and five ethnic media roundtables for law enforcement, consumer advocates, and community organizations, consumer advocates and journalists to discuss debt collection and other consumer protection issues.