Last week I experienced one of the more turbulent airline flights I’ve ever taken. I was on my way to attend the FTC Debt Collection Technology Workshop in Washington D.C. While waiting for a tornado to pass below so we could land safely, I wondered if this storm was an ominous omen to the upcoming FTC public workshop.
The workshop, “Debt Collection 2.0: Protecting Consumers as Technologies Change,” was a direct attempt by the FTC (FDCPA governing entity) to learn about current technologies and how they relate to the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – enacted in the late 1970’s). There were six panel discussions that explored a wide range of topics/technologies, including predictive dialers, broadcast messaging, cell phone adoption trends and social media as a debt collection tool.
Each panel was equally represented by those focused on protecting consumer rights and those representing the debt collection/asset recovery industry. My opinion is that the passionate panelists, for the most part, attempted to be fair about the market segment or technologies they represented. (I will withhold my comments about some of the consumer protection advocates that participated as panelists.)
Personally, I am encouraged with the FTC’s willingness to hold this event and their openness at directing the discussions. I feel, after observing the FTC’s reaction to the panel discussions and their interactions with attendees that they will search for a way to make some modifications to the FDCPA so that it aligns more closely with current communication tools and consumer trends.
That being said, over the next several months, I suspect that the real political battle surrounding FDCPA modification will most likely be conducted away from public scrutiny. These closed door discussions will significantly impact the asset recovery industry. It is for this reason that I strongly encourage all who are involved in this industry to submit comments to the FTC on how you would like the antiquated FDCPA to be modified. Public comments will be accepted up to May 27, 2011. (See below for instructions on submitting public comments to the FTC.)
While my flight to Washington D.C. was turbulent and delayed because of tornadoes, my flight home was just the opposite— extremely smooth. I am encouraged that my calm flight home is a sign of positive actions by the FTC to update the antiquated FDCPA.
Instructions for Filing Comments. Interested parties are invited to submit written comments* electronically or in paper form. Comments should refer to “Debt Collection 2.0, Project No. P114802.” To submit a comment online, use the form found here: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/debtcollecttechworkshop/.
*Please note that your comment—including your name and state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including on the publicly accessible FTC Web site, http://www. ftc.gov/os/ publiccomments.shtm. Because comments will be made public, they should not include any sensitive personal information.
This article was written by Dave R