The CFPB has announced that it will hold a field hearing about debt collection on July 28, 2016 in Sacramento, California. We expect the field hearing to coincide with the CFPB’s release of an outline of the proposals it is considering in preparation for convening a small business review panel required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) and Dodd-Frank. The outline will be a strong indicator of the approach the CFPB is likely to take in a proposed debt collection rule.
When developing rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses, the CFPB is required by SBREFA and Dodd-Frank to convene a panel to obtain input from a group of small entity representatives (SER) selected by the CFPB in consultation with the Small Business Administration. Before meeting with the panel, the SERs will receive the outline of the CFPB’s proposals, together with a list of issues on which the CFPB seeks input. Within 60 days of convening, the panel must issue a report that includes the input received from the SERs and the panel’s findings on the proposals’ potential economic impact on small business. However, the CFPB will not make the “issued” report public until such later time as it releases a proposed rule. The CFPB has previously convened SBREFA panels in connection with its mortgage loan, arbitration, and payday loan rulemakings.
In November 2013, the CFPB issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning debt collection. In its Spring 2016 agenda released in May 2016, the CFPB stated that “it is in the process of analyzing responses to a survey seeking information from consumers about their experiences with debt collectors and is engaged in qualitative testing to determine what information would be useful for consumers to have about debt collection and how that information should be provided to them.” Presumably the CFPB will discuss the results of its analysis and testing in the materials distributed to the SERs.