The Federal Trade Commission plans to hold a two-day roundtable discussion in San Francisco this month on protecting consumers in litigation and arbitration proceedings to collect debt.

It will be the second of three such forums to help the FTC craft policy recommendations for reforming the regulation of debt collection.

The first day, Sept. 29, will cover arbitration issues, including consumer choice, perceptions of bias, and the transparency of results. (Consumer advocates say that many companies use arbitration to pursue collections or defend against cardholder complaints in a forum that they know is biased toward business interests. Major credit card issuers started backing away from mandatory arbitration clauses in July.) The next day will cover litigation matters.

Participants in the discussions will include state judges, government officials, collectors, consumer advocates, and academics.

Requests to participate in the roundtables must be sent to the commission by Sept. 15 for the San Francisco gathering and by Oct. 15 for the final one, which is scheduled for Dec. 4 in Washington. (The first roundtable was held in Chicago last month.)

The FTC is also accepting written comments from the public through Nov. 30.

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