The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that the comment period on its Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) implementing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) will be extended to June 5, 2020, given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CFPB issued the SNPRM on February 21, 2020, proposing to require debt collectors to make certain disclosures when collecting time-barred debts. Under the proposal, a debt collector collecting a debt that the debt collector knows or should know is time barred would be required to disclose:
- That the law limits how long the consumer can be sued for a debt and that, because of the age of the debt, the debt collector will not sue the consumer to collect it; and
- If the debt collector's right to bring a legal action against the consumer to collect the debt can be revived under applicable law, the fact that revival can occur and the circumstances in which it can occur.
The SNPRM supplements the CFPB's May 2019 proposal to, among many other things, prohibit a debt collector from bringing a legal action or threatening legal action for debts for which the debt collector knows or should know the applicable statute of limitations had expired.
The CFPB also released its annual report to Congress on the administration of the FDCPA, highlighting the efforts of the CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address unlawful debt collection practices during 2019. The CFPB notes in its report that debt collection is among the most prevalent topics of consumer complaints received by the CFPB, with over 75,000 complaints received. The annual report also highlights enforcement actions by both the CFPB and the FTC:
- The CFPB engaged in five public enforcement actions in 2019. Two cases were resolved fully, and another resulted in partial consent judgments. Together, these cases resulted in “nearly $50 million in consumer redress and levied $11.2 million in civil money penalties.” Eight individuals were banned from working in the debt collection industry, based on their “serious and repeated violations of law.”
- The FTC filed or resolved enforcement actions against twenty-five defendants, resulting in more than $24.7 million in judgments. Twenty-three companies and individuals were banned from working in the debt collection industry due to their serious and repeated violations of the law.
For more information on the Debt Collection Proposed Rule, including a "Fast Facts" summary of the proposal, see: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/policy-compliance/rulemaking/rules-under-development/debt-collection-practices-regulation-f-supplemental-proposal-time-barred-debt.
For the CFPB’s 2020 annual report on the FDCPA, see: https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_fdcpa_annual-report-congress_03-2020.pdf.
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Jonathan L. Pompan, a partner in the Washington, DC office of Venable LLP, co-chairs the firm's Consumer Financial Services Practice Group. His practice focuses on providing comprehensive legal advice and regulatory advocacy to a broad spectrum of clients, such as nonbank financial products and services providers, nonprofit organizations, and trade and professional associations, before the CFPB, the FTC, state attorneys general, and regulatory agencies.
This article is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion and should not be relied on as such. Legal advice can only be provided in response to specific fact situations.