The CFPB and FTC have announced that they will co-host a roundtable on June 6, 2013 in Washington, D.C. to examine the flow of consumer data throughout the debt collection process.  Titled “Life of a Debt: Data Integrity in Debt Collection,” the roundtable will look at such topics as: 

•             the amount of documentation and other information currently available to different types of collectors and at different points in the debt collection process;

•             investigating disputed debts under the FCRA;

•             verifying disputed debts under the FDCPA, including the information needed to verify and substantiate debts;

•             time-barred debts;

•             the costs and benefits of providing consumers with additional disclosures about their debts and debt-related rights; and

•             information issues relating to pleading and judgment in debt collection litigation.

The roundtable reflects the mounting documentation-related challenges now facing the debt collection industry and creditors attempting to collect their own debts, whether in the form of new state evidentiary requirements for collection actions or attacks on documentation in collection actions by borrowers’ attorneys.  

It also reflects the CFPB’s and FTC’s increased focus on debt collection.  In addition to its authority to examine members of the debt collection industry who qualify as “larger participants,” the CFPB has authority to examine debt collection by entities it has authority to examine (such as large banks, payday and private student lenders, and mortgage servicers) and service providers to such entities.  The CFPB ‘s second annual report on FDCPA activities issued in March 2013 left little doubt that debt collection will be a CFPB priority in 2013.  The FTC, which shares jurisdiction with the CFPB for FDCPA enforcement, continues to bring cases targeting debt collectors.  Earlier this year, it issued a “first of its kind” empirical study of debt buyers. 

To assist debt collectors, debt buyers and creditors in responding to documentation-related challenges and in preparing for their first CFPB exams, Ballard Spahr’s Consumer Financial Services Group has created a Collection Documentation Task Force that conducts extensive audits of collection procedures and counsels on best documentation practices.  The Task Force brings together litigators in the group with experience defending mortgage lenders and other consumer lenders in documentation-related lawsuits nationwide and regulatory lawyers in the group with deep knowledge of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s national bank foreclosure review process and federal and state debt collection laws.

The roundtable particpants will include consumer advocates, credit issuers, collection industry members, state and federal regulators, and academics.