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Strengthening the Foundation [Collector]
[March 01, 2012]

Strengthening the Foundation [Collector]

(Collector Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A look at 2011 reflects accomplishments, evolving priorities and efforts to protect the credit and collection industry's future.

The past year brought the official opening of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the subsequent recess appointment of Director Richard Cordray, which changed the way the credit and collection industry will be regulated. Engaging with this new regulator is a top priority for ACA International. Another priority is urging both Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to consider reforms to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to account for new technologies.

Despite some challenges in this area, ACA helped make the outdated aspects of the TCPA a topic of discussion in the halls of Congress, the FCC and the Supreme Court. Even the White House expressed recognition of problems with the statute in an official report issued in September. Combining ACAs government affairs program with member-led grassroots efforts is an effective strategy for achieving results. A look back at 201 1 illustrates the association's evolving priorities, our accomplishments and the groundwork we have laid for our industry's future.

January 2011: ACA Submits Comments Regarding Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Concerning Caller Identification ACA filed comments in response to the FTC's request for comments concerning the proposed amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule. In its comments, ACA suggested that credit grantors and third-party debt collectors that service accounts on behalf of credit grantors do not engage in telemarketing and should not be brought within the scope of the TSR.


February 2011: ACA Responds to the National Consumer Law Center Report ACA responded to the National Consumer Law Center's report, "The Debt Collection Machine." The report laid out issues in the debt collection industry from the perspective of consumer groups, asserting that the collection industry treats consumers unfairly and overwhelms the court system. ACA refuted this argument and highlighted the benefits to the economy that member companies provide, as well as the consumer attitudes toward repaying owed debts.

ACA Submits Comments About the CFPB's Proposed Privacy Act System of Records for Consumer Inquiry and Complaint Database ACA filed comments in response to the Department of the Treasury and CFPB's request for comments on the proposed establishment of a Privacy Act System of Records. ACA requested the proposed system be part of a continuing discussion about improving the enforcement schemes of the various laws that govern the accounts receivable management industry.

March 2011: ACA Submits Comments to Federal Reserve Regarding Proposed Regulation Y Amendments ACA submitted comments in response to the Board of Governors' notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments announcing proposed amendments to Regulation Y, which would establish criteria for determining whether a company is "predominately engaged in financial activities'' and to define the terms "significant nonbank financial company" under Title I of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. ACA requested the board's final rule expressly clarify that companies engaged in collection agency and related services are not subject to the amended Regulation Y criteria under Dodd-Frank as nonbank financial companies.

ACPAC Hosts Sen. KyI at ACA's Spring Forum ACA hosted Sen. Jon KyI (R-Ariz.) at the annual Spring Forum, which was held in Arizona. KyI discussed the challenges of regulatory reform facing the credit and collection industry. He also stressed the importance of staying involved in the political process to bring more attention to pressing issues, such as FDCPA reform and the TCPA.

ACA Meets with CFPB Staff ACA met with the CFPB at the U.S. Department of Treasury in March to address debt collection issues. During this meeting, ACA Federal Government Affairs Director Adam Peterman and ACAs regulatory counsel, Andrew Beato, discussed ACAs priorities for industry reform. This meeting was successful in promoting a cordial dialogue with CFPB officials.

ACA Hosts FIy-In For Record Number of Participants A record turnout of more than 50 ACA members traveled to Washington, D. C, on March 16-17 to meet with their members of Congress and FTC officials. The three specific issues the group focused its advocacy on included: amending the TCPA to allow our members to use dialers to call wireless numbers, modernizing the FDCPA to address 2 1st century communication methods and reduce frivolous lawsuits, and the implementation of the CFPB.

ACA Submits Comments After House Financial Services Subcommittee Hearing ACA provided official comments to the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee hearing, which was held March 16. The hearing discussed the CFPB and the effect of the Dodd-Frank Act on small financial institutions.

April 2011; ACA Successfully Advocates Against IRS 1099 Legislation President Obama signed into law legislation that repealed onerous 1099 reporting requirements. The 1 099 legislation, which was originally passed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, required certain entities to file a Form 1099 with the IRS for purchases of $600 or more of goods and services. ACA advocated against this legislation collaboratively with the Center for Association Leadership and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because it would be overly burdensome to associations and businesses of all sizes.

ACA Outlines Suggestions for Collaboration with the New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ACA outlined suggestions for modernizing Americas debt collection system for CFPB consideration as it carries out its charge under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010. ACAs Executive Committee and Legislative Council delineated five specific areas to promote modernization.

ACA Submits Comments Regarding FTC Debt Collection Workshop 2.0 ACA submitted comments to the FTC in advance of the commissions Debt Collection Workshop 2.0. ACA discussed the impact of new technologies on the debt collection industry. Moreover, ACA noted that technologies such as e-mail, text messages and cellular phones are commonplace today but have no mooring in the FDCPA as enacted.

ACA Attends FTC Debt Collection Workshop 2.0 ACA members and staff participated in the FTC workshop that examined the effect of new technology on the collection industry and consumer communication. The workshop featured panel discussions on six different topics. At least one ACA member or staff member served on each of the six panels.

ACA Submits Comments Regarding the FCC Truth in Caller ID Act ACA submitted comments to the FCC on the notice of proposed rulemaking to implement the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. ACA stated that a clarification is required to avoid a conflict with the FDCPA and the FCCs Second Order on Reconsideration under the TCPA. Further, ACA asked for clarification about whether caller identification management services used in communications with consumers for the purpose of recovering debts are permitted under the Act.

May 2011: ACA Submits Comments on Interim Final Rule Regarding the Garnishment of Accounts Containing Federal Benefit Payments with the Office of Personnel Management ACA submitted comments on the Interim Final Rule seeking to implement statutory restrictions on the garnishment of federal benefit payments. ACA requested the final rule provide a procedure under which the garnishor can be granted access to the garnishees account information, including, but not limited to, the amount held in the garnished account, documentation supporting the financial institutions application of the final rule and any calculations supporting the financial institutions decision to not freeze certain funds.

ACA Submits Reply Comments After FTC Debt Collection Workshop 2.0 In response to the issues raised at the FTC's April 28, 201 1, Debt Collection 2.0 workshop, ACA submitted reply comments. ACA pointed out that technological advances following the enactment of the FDCPA have heralded a new age of communication and efficiency ACA contended that these advances and changes in technology have surpassed the ability of the FDCPA to keep pace and continue to have a profound effect on consumers and debt collectors.

June 2011: ACA Hosts Washington Summer FIy-In ACA hosted nearly 40 ACA members in June to engage in face-to-face meetings in Washington, D.C., with members of Congress and their staff to garner support for our federal legislative agenda. Participants focused on several issues, including finding both regulatory and legislative solutions for the TCPA, modernizing the FDCPA, and ensuring the new CFPB is constituted in such a fashion that protects consumers without causing undue harm or cost burden on the businesses it will regulate. Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AIa.) was a speaker and guest at the reception the night before the fly-in.

July 2011: ACPAC Holds Beatles Bash Fundraiser ACA staff prepared and executed the ACPAC Beatles Bash fundraiser at the annual convention. Funds raised during the event supported and enhanced the effectiveness of ACAs lobbying and political advocacy efforts.

ACA Meets With CFPB to Help Define Larger Market Participants ACA staff met with CFPB officials to communicate the Legislative Council's position on what is a reasonable definition of "larger market participants" during a roundtable discussion in July at the U.S. Department of Treasury. During this meeting, ACA staff noted the importance of formulating a definition that is large enough to avoid unnecessary burdens on small businesses.

August 2011: ACA Submits Comments in Response to the CFPB's Development of Online and Paper Intake Methods for Consumers ACA filed comments to the CFPB on the proposed establishment of a Privacy Act System of Records. ACA suggested the proposed system, which seeks to collect complaints and inquiries from consumers about financial products and services, should incorporate policies and procedures to make sure the complaints and inquiries are identified and assessed in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of the FDCPA. Further, ACA requested the proposed system be part of a continuing discussion on improving the enforcement schemes of the various laws that govern the accounts receivable management industry.

ACA Submits Comments on HIPAA Privacy Rule Accounting of Disclosures Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act ACA submitted comments in response to the NPRM to modify the HIPAA Privacy Rule's standard for accounting of disclosures of protected health information. ACA emphasized the need for the new regulations to be compatible with existing laws - in particular, the FDCPA.

ACA Submits Comments to the CFPB About Defining Larger Market Participants in Certain Consumer Financial Products and Services Markets ACA filed comments to the CFPB on defining larger participants in certain consumer financial products and services markets. ACA outlined two concerns with respect to the larger participant rule. First, ACA pointed out that third-party debt collection is not properly subject to the supervision program of the larger participant rule. Further, the industry does not provide financial products or services within the scope of congressional intent for larger participants. Second, ACA strongly encouraged the CFPB to take into account the disproportionate effect the rule will have on third-party debt collectors, which are primarily small businesses.

ACA Improves ACPACs Technological Capabilities ACAs government affairs staff worked with IT staff to have technological capabilities to accept credit cards at conferences, forums and other events. Concurrently, ACA enhanced its technological abilities to accept PAC donations through electronic Web portals and an online contribution site.

September 2011: ACA Submits Comments About Disclosure of Records and Information ACA submitted comments regarding the CFPB's interim final rule relating to the disclosure of records and information to third parties. ACA suggested the production of information and records on the debt collection industry to third parties should clearly distinguish a consumer "complaint" from a mere "inquiry." Moreover, ACA requested the CFPB incorporate adequate training and procedures to make sure the initial collection of information and data from the debt collection industry is categorized and distinguished accordingly.

ACA Implements New Grassroots Software Service to Facilitate a Call to Action For H.R. 3035 When the TCPA modernization bill was introduced in the fall, ACA staff used Softedge, ACAs new government affairs software, to facilitate a call to action. This software allowed ACA members and their staff to send letters directly to their members of Congress seeking support for the TCPA modernization legislation.

November 2011: ACA Hosts Third FIy-In of the Year ACA hosted its third Washington, D.C., Fly-In on Nov. 1-2, which was attended by more than 40 participants. This marked the first time the association held three fly-ins in one year. Fly-in participants focused their advocacy on seeking modernization of the TCPA and the FDCPA. Rep. David McKinley (R-WVa.), who is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was a guest at the reception the night before the fly-in.

ACPAC Hosts a Dinner During the November FIy-In ACA incorporated an ACPAC dinner into the November Fly-In. This event was a great way to get more members engaged in contributing to ACPAC.

December 2011: ACA Staff Meets with FCC Officials In December, Beato, Peterman and ACA CEO Pat Morris met with FCC officials. During this meeting, they discussed TCPA reform and the potential for a final rule concerning the TCPAin2012.cm Leah Dempsey is ACAs government affairs specialist.

(c) 2012 ACA International

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