By Kelly Cochran and Scott Pluta
Ed. note:This is cross-posted from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau blog. See the original post here.
We want to hear about your debt collection experience – weigh in now.
Since we began taking debt collection complaints a few months ago, companies have responded to more than 5,000 debt collection complaints. We see that this is an important issue for consumers and today we’re adding these complaints about debt collection to our public Consumer Complaint Database.
We’re also taking the first steps to gather information to determine what rules would be appropriate to protect consumers who are subject to debt collection. We’re issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) today —and what that means is that we are considering issuing rules for the debt collection industry, but first we want to hear from you so we can learn more about the debt collection system. We’d like to hear about your experience with debt collectors and how they should act when they try to recover debts.
Getting input from the public – you – is an important part of the process. Debt collection is a complicated topic, with many consumer protection concerns. We are issuing an ANPR in order to ask a number of questions about different aspects of the industry and the consumer experience. The ANPR will be published in the Federal Register, where anyone can submit comments to respond to the questions. We’re particularly interested in learning about the accuracy of information in the debt collection industry, whether consumers are aware of the debt and their rights, and whether consumers are being treated fairly.
Although the public can submit comments formally in response to the notice at regulations.gov, we want to make it easier for consumers and small businesses to tell us what they think about debt collection practices. To do that, we’ve partnered with RegulationRoom.org, operated by the Cornell University’s eRulemaking Initiative, where you can provide your comments in an interactive and intuitive way.
RegulationRoom.org is not a government website. It’s operated by law students and staff at Cornell Law School, with the goal of making it easy for people to submit comments to government agencies. They are working on removing barriers to public participation, and we are excited to be partnering with them again.
The staff at RegulationRoom.org realizes that most people are generally unfamiliar with the formal commenting process at Regulations.gov (the official government site). So they present information, conduct a conversation, and then collect views until the forum closes about a week before the end of the comment period, so that their team can assemble all the feedback into an official comment. Those who have participated get one more chance to react to the summary before it is submitted formally to the CFPB through regulations.gov. And, like all other formal comments, we will read and consider them as we consider consumer protection rules for the debt collection market.
Explore the data
Adding debt collection complaints will take the number of complaints in the Consumer Complaint Database to more than 155,000. When you look at the data for debt collection complaints, you can even see what type of debt is involved (auto loan, credit card, medical, student loan, mortgage, etc).
Dig in and explore this new frontier of information, and remember – if you think you’ve found something interesting in the consumer complaint data, we definitely want to hear about it! We encourage the public, including consumers, analysts, data scientists, civic hackers, and companies that serve consumers to analyze, augment, and build on the information in the database to develop ways for consumers to use the complaint data or mash it up with other public data sets to reveal potential trends.