Christopher Koegel, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Financial Practices, opened the FTC’s third debt collection dialogue event in Atlanta on Wednesday by highlighting the agency’s aggressive approach to collection enforcement.
Panel discussions included a look at state regulations and collection enforcement with Nick Jarman, president and chief operating officer of Delta Outsource Group, discussing the industry’s desire to get rid of illegal companies. Too much regulation, however, could limit chances for everyone else to properly and legally collect.
The issue has gained more attention in recent weeks with the FTC recently launching “Operation Collection Protection” - a united effort with state regulators to police the industry and share information.
"Operation Collection Protection" aims, in part, at helping regulators across the U.S. coordinate and inform other law enforcement about illegal activity. The initiative didn't reveal new legal actions against debt collectors and doesn't appear to offer new insights into enforcement strategies but does trumpet the fact that regulators will continue to be aggressive against the industry.
The initiative also appears to signal that regulators will be more forthright about pursuing the industry, whereas for years many in the business have felt blindsided.
The initiative reviewed 30 recent law enforcement actions by federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities against so-called collectors using illegal tactics such as harassing phone calls and false threats of litigation, arrest and wage garnishment. Unlawful practices targeted also include the failure of some collectors to give consumers legally required disclosures and notices, or to follow state and local licensing requirements.
A second panel at the dialogue focused on federal laws and included representatives from the FTC, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and various industry representatives.