The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has turned its attention to debt collection companies, opening its public consumer complaint database to this type of financial service and collecting information about debt collection practices.
In a statement, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said consumers have reported "unacceptable practices" in the debt-collection industry for decades, and more oversight is needed.
"We want to ensure that all players in the industry are working with correct information, that consumers are fully informed and that consumers are treated fairly and with dignity," Cordray said.
The CFPB is looking at three areas of special concern.
One area of concern is the accuracy of information that's transferred from the original creditor to the debt collector and from the debt collector to other debt collectors and credit reporting bureaus.
“The CFPB wants to know how documents and records are currently transferred and how to improve the accuracy of that information,” the agency said.
A second area of concern is whether consumers understand their rights in the debt collection process. The CFPB is concerned that current consumer disclosures might be confusing or incomplete.
A third area of concern is that of debt collectors' communication tactics. The CFPB wants to make sure that debt collectors treat consumers fairly and with respect.
Federal laws prohibit debt collector from harassing consumers, but the CFPB is concerned that some debt collectors call consumers continuously; call them at work; use email, smartphones, fax machines or social media to contact and falsely threaten to sue them; garnish their wages; damage or ruin their credit; seize their property; get them fired from their jobs; or even have them jailed.
The CFPB already has established supervisory authority over larger nonbank debt collectors, issued bulletins to clarify existing consumer protections and published sample letters that consumers can use to deal with debt collectors.
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