The CFPB has issued its fourth annual FDCPA report covering the CFPB’s activities in 2014. The section of the report that reviews consumer complaints about debt collection received by the CFPB in 2014 recycles information contained in the CFPB’s latest Consumer Response Annual Report.
In the section of the report about the CFPB’s supervision of debt collectors that qualify as “larger participants,” the CFPB describes FDCPA violations found by its examiners including:
- Excessive or inconveniently timed telephone calls
- Misleading representations in collection litigation, such as findings by CFPB examiners that one or more entities would dismiss 70% of the lawsuits they filed when the consumer filed an answer because the entities could not locate supporting documentation
- False threats of litigation
- Prohibited disclosures to third parties, with CFPB examiners finding that one or more collectors had provided faulty training materials that resulted in their representatives regularly identifying their employers to third parties without being expressly requested to do so
- False and misleading representations in debt collection communications (which included misrepresentations regarding the benefits of participating in a federal student loan rehabilitation program made by debt collectors collecting defaulted student loans for the Department of Education as previously described in the CFPB’s Winter 2015 Supervisory Highlights.)
With regard to the CFPB’s debt collection rulemaking efforts, the report discusses the CFPB’s review of the more than 23,000 comments it received in response to its November 2013 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. According to the CFPB, the “broad themes” it has identified from the comments include:
- The need to address use of newer technologies such as e-mail under the FDCPA
- Issues relating to the transfer of information when debts are sold, including whether certain types of debt, like medical or student loan debt, should require more or less documentation
- Whether debt collection rules should apply to first party collectors
While Director Cordray states in his introductory message that the CFPB “is making progress” on developing rules, no timetable is given. The report indicates only that prior to completing its review of the comments and issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking, the CFPB “may convene” a small business review panel pursuant to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
The report also describes the seven public enforcement actions announced by the CFPB in 2014 “related to unfair, deceptive and abusive debt collection,” and indicates that these actions have so far resulted in over $570 million in consumer relief and over $13 million in civil money penalties. (Among these enforcement actions are the CFPB’s actions against ACE Cash Express, Fredrick J. Hanna & Associates, Colfax Capital Corporation, and Freedom Stores.) According to the report, in addition to these seven actions, “the Bureau is conducting a number of non-public investigations of companies to determine whether they engaged in collection practices that violate the FDCPA or the Dodd-Frank Act.”