Issuance of Commission advisory opinion: The Commission has issued an advisory opinion stating that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not prohibit a debt collector in the foreclosure context from communicating with consumers regarding possible settlement options that may assist consumers to avoid foreclosure. USFN, formerly known as the U.S. Foreclosure Network, the nation’s largest not-for-profit association of foreclosure law firms and trustees, asked the Commission to address whether a debt collector violates Sections 807 or 809(a) of the Act if he or she communicates with a consumer regarding possible foreclosure settlement options in initial or subsequent contacts with consumers. The FTC’s advisory opinion concluded that providing truthful and non-misleading information to a consumer about settlement options would not be a per se violation of FDCPA Sections 807 or 809(a), but that specific communications could violate these sections of the Act if they contained a false or misleading representation or omission of material fact or overshadowed the disclosures regarding consumers’ rights to dispute their debts in writing.
The Commission vote approving issuance of the advisory opinion was 5-0. (FTC File No. P084801; the staff contact is Sara Gottovi, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3224.)
Extension of public comment period: In preparation for the FTC’s “Beyond Voice” Town Hall scheduled for May 6 and 7, 2008, the Commission requested comments and original research from interested parties on the general topics noted in its February 4, 2008, press release. The Commission had requested that all interested parties submit comments by March 17, 2008. The comment period has been extended through May 5, 2008.
Comments should refer to “Beyond Voice – Comment, Project No. P074403.” To file electronically, use the form at https://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-beyondvoice, or send comments to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-135 (Annex A), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. (The staff contact is Ruth Yodaiken, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2127; see press release dated February 4, 2008.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.