July 28th, the CFPB held a field hearing in Sacramento, California on debt collection that coincided with its release of an outline of the proposals it is considering in connection with its debt collection rulemaking. In his opening remarks, Director Cordray discussed the key elements of the proposals under consideration which would only cover businesses that would be “debt collectors” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, such as third-party debt collectors, debt buyers, and collection law firms. His remarks mirrored those set forth in his prepared remarks issued in advance of the field hearing.
Following Director Cordray’s remarks, John McNamara, CFPB Debt Collections Program Manager, moderated a panel discussion during which participants from consumer advocacy groups and debt collection firms had the opportunity to provide remarks and answer questions. The panelists included:
- Keo Chea, Assistant Deputy Director, CFPB
- Anthony Alexis, Assistant Director of Enforcement, CFPB
- Brent Yarborough, Attorney, Zarzaur & Schwartz, P.C.
- James Mastriani, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Legal Officer ,Velocity Portfolio Group, Inc.
- Linda Guinn, CEO, CB Merchant Services
- Scott Maurer, Associate Clinical Professor, Santa Clara University School of Law
- Graciela Aponte-Diaz, Director of California Policy, Center for Responsible Lending
- Susan Shin, Legal Director, New Economy Project
The panelists focused on the CFPB’s efforts to limit harassing calls, institute time place and manner restrictions, and spent a majority of time discussing streamlining the documentation requirements for third-party collectors to limit confusion and inaccuracies in the debt collection process. The panelists also discussed the following issues:
- Best practices for communication with consumers and compiling proper documentation.
- Challenges faced by debt collectors in collecting debts and communicating with consumers via new technologies that are not contemplated by the FDCPA.
- The need for mechanisms to be set in place to allow for consumers to contest their debt and to disclose to consumers their rights regarding communication.