During the past year, the Federal Trade Commission has continued its efforts to stop unlawful debt collection practices, including vigorous law enforcement, education and public outreach, and research and policy initiatives.
The FTC sent a summary of its 2015 work on debt collection practices to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for inclusion in the CFPB’s annual report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The FTC and the CFPB share enforcement responsibilities under the FDCPA.
According to the summary issued by the FTC, in 2015, the Commission:
- coordinated the first federal-state-local enforcement initiative targeting deceptive and abusive debt collection practices, an effort that has so far resulted in over 70 law enforcement partners bringing over 130 actions;
- prosecuted a sweep of cases against collectors that used unlawful text messages to collect debts;
- filed 12 new cases against 52 new defendants (a record number of debt collection enforcement actions for the FTC in a year);
- resolved nine cases and obtained nearly $94 million in judgments;
- banned 30 companies and individuals that engaged in serious and repeated violations of law from ever working in debt collection again;
- published a list of every company and individual banned by federal court order from engaging in debt collection activities;
- filed three amicus briefs, two of them jointly with the CFPB, on key debt collection issues; and
- hosted three Debt Collection Dialogues, to promote a more robust exchange of information between the debt collection industry and the state and federal governmental agencies that regulate their conduct.
The FTC has also worked to educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities under the FDCPA and the FTC Act. In addition to reaching consumers through about 16,000 community-based organizations and national groups, in 2015 the FTC distributed 17.4 million print publications to libraries, police departments, schools, non-profit, banks, credit unions, other businesses and government agencies. FTC website pages logged more than 102 million views, its videos were seen more than 471,000 times at YouTube.com/FTC, and its consumer blogs reached 93,052 (English) and 34,892 (Spanish) email subscribers. Also in 2015, the FTC organized five common ground conferences and five ethnic media roundtables for law enforcement, consumer advocates, and community organizations, consumer advocates and journalists to discuss debt collection and other consumer protection issues.
The Commission vote approving the report was 4-0.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.