The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released a report regarding its stepped-up FDCPA enforcement over the past year. The FTC is one of the federal agencies tasked with protecting consumers from deceptive or abusive debt collectors and enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The FTC shares enforcement duties with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
According to the report, over the prior year the FTC brought or resolved seven large debt collection cases, more than in any previous year. In two cases, the FTC obtained the largest civil penalties in its history of FDCPA enforcement: in a case against West Asset Acceptance, the penalty was $2.8 million, and in a case against Asset Acceptance, LLC, the penalty was $2.5 million. The FTC alleged these collectors used abusive tactics to intimidate consumers, misled consumers while attempting to collect on time-barred debts, and used faulty data to identify debtors and the amounts they owed. The cases affected hundreds of thousands of consumers.
The FTC also filed actions against payday lenders, and filed two amicus briefs, most notably a brief opposing the proposed class action settlement in the Brant v. Midland Funding, LLC case in federal court in Ohio
(more here). The FTC argued in the Midland Funding case that the settlement (which was ultimately approved) would require consumers to give up important protections afforded them by the FTCPA in exchange for a minimal payment.
The FTC's report has been submitted to the CFPB, which is set to issue its own report shortly.