If you’re a regular reader here, you might know the FTC gets more complaints about debt collection than about any other industry. And you might have read a thing or two about what we do about debt collection. Like the giant law enforcement sweep last month, where 70 partners nationwide brought more than 115 cases against bad debt collectors. Or the cases we bring ourselves – and the refunds we’ve gotten for people. Or the nearly 100 debt collectors we’ve banned from the industry.
These efforts have stopped a lot of bad guys: put them out of business, taken the cars and houses they bought with the money they stole, and helped clean up the debt collection industry. But your reports of ongoing bad behavior tell us there’s more to do. So this year, we decided to add a new approach into the mix.
Over the past six months, the FTC hosted a series of three Debt Collection Dialogues around the country – half-day sessions where debt collectors got to hear from federal and state law enforcers and from leaders in the debt collection industry. In Buffalo, Dallas and Atlanta, the debt collectors who attended heard about government agency enforcement priorities, how state and federal enforcement works, and issues for particular audiences – like collection attorneys or debt buyers.
But the government officials also got to hear from industry officials, who raised their own concerns: how to reach people from whom they’re trying to collect, the high cost of complying with many federal and state laws, and the need for clarity in the laws and regulations that affect them.
In the end, the dialogues were a valuable way to share information in both directions – and remind the collection industry that collectors actually can help shut down illegal collection operations by sharing information with law enforcement. That’s where your report matters, too. If you see bad debt collection practices, let us know. Every report makes a difference.
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