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Be heard by FTC! You have until Jan 8 to comment online on debt collectors, etc.


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Now is your chance to comment online to the FTC on unfair practices and collection efforts! This is really important since they will be reading our comments before making recommendations on changes to the Fair Credit Debt Collection Practices Act FDCPA.

The FTC recently conducted 3 roundtables on collections and other matters. Now the public has only until Jan 8th to make comments "on topics related to consumer protection issues and debt collection litigation or arbitration proceedings against individual consumers" and can do so online at their site.

I am new poster so can not put link in this post, maybe someone will let me post the link. So, to comment, go to the ftc.gov website, click the "news" tab, then click the "public events" tab, then click on the "conferences & workshops" link. Then make sure you are looking at 2009 and scroll down to the third item titled "Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration: A Roundtable Discussion (December 4, 2009)". Click on that link and it takes you to a page where you can comment electronically near the bottom of the page.

Sadly only 11 people/attorneys etc have commented so far.

One page discusses how to add "confidential" if desired and what to put at the beginning of the comment. Specifically it says to "Please caption all comments “Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Proceedings, P094806."

Personally I will recommend increasing the $1,000 penalty to $10,000 and hope others do too!

Other information from the FTC website describing the last roundtable:

Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration: A Roundtable Discussion (December 4, 2009)

The FTC is preparing to hold the third in a series of three Roundtable Discussions on Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration. Previous Roundtables were held in Chicago and San Francisco. These events examine consumer protection issues in debt collection proceedings against consumers. The events are free and open to the public, and there is no preregistration. In primary part, the Washington, DC event will focus on issues relevant to litigation proceedings. The Commission also strongly encourages comments from the public relevant to these topics.

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In my perfect world a rewritten FDCPA would:

1. Provide for a maximum judgment of $10,000 per action plus attorney fees. That would create a tremendous incentive for collectors to be on the straight and narrow. Creditors who successfully defend FDCPA actions would automatically be awarded their attorney fees.

2. Creditors responding to a request for verification would be required to produce at minimum some documentation from the OC to evidence the debt (either the original credit app or a statement on the account). Creditors who did not respond to a verification request would be allowed to continue collection activity but limited to written communication unless the debtor initiated a telephonic conversation.

3. All requests for validation would be deemed "timely". Creditors would be allowed a maximum of 90 days to respond.

4. Debtors would not be permitted to issue a cease and desist. Debtors would be permitted to bar creditors from calling at the debtor's place of work and during a 10-hour block to time designated by the debtor as their sleep hours (presumed to be 10pm to 8am unless otherwise specified by the debtor).

5. Creditors would be allowed to call the debtor's cell phone. Creditors would be permitted to speak with the creditor a maximum of 3 times in a 10-day period. Creditors would be permitted to dial a debtor's phone number a maximum of 5 times daily. Creditors would be permitted to leave voice mail/answering machine phone messages without concern for 3rd party disclosure or need for the mini-miranda disclosure.

To me, these changes would clarify and simplify much of the conflict that exists today between creditors and debtors. There is something here for everyone to like and everyone to hate. To me, that is the test of an equitable resolution.

I think it would be impractical for either consumers or collectors to think they will have a free hand to rewrite the Act. Politics does not work that way. Compromise is the pattern.

Those were the suggestions I had for the FTC. Anyone if free to offer suggestions to the FTC. It is unclear that the FTC is actively working on a rewritten proposal for Congress. What is clear is the notion that consumer complaints are out of control. The FTC is pressing the industry to clean up and the unspoken threat is that if things continue as they are then there will more more regulation of some sort.

Everyone should exercise their right to make their views know to the FTC and to their elected representatives.

Debt Guy was a strong poster... he hasn't been here for a while.

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