The Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop on October 10-11, 2007 to examine the present state of the debt collection industry and the effectiveness of existing consumer protections relating to debt collection. The FTC intends to address a number of topics during the workshop, such as:

    • Demographic and industry information (e.g., the number of entities acting as in-house collectors, collection agencies, collection law firms, debt buyers and other identifiable industry groups);
    • Industry trends (e.g., how the practice of debt buying has evolved over the years and what impact it has had on the practice of debt collection);
    • Debt collection practices and techniques (e.g., whether the following new techniques and technologies are being employed in debt collection and what benefits and costs they have on businesses and consumers: (i) database and recordkeeping technology, (ii) telephone technology (e.g., cell phones, VoIP, caller ID, predictive and other automatic dialers, prerecorded messages, call recording, voice mail, etc.), (iii) other communication technology (e.g., overnight mail, e-mail, instant messaging, etc.), (iv) financial services technology (e.g., automatic withdrawal, ACH transactions, etc.) and (v) technology facilitating the outsourcing of debt collection to entities or call centers abroad);
    • Industry compliance with, and the sufficiency of, applicable federal and state laws (e.g., whether debt verification efforts of credit issuers and third-party debt collectors are adequate);
    • Consumer behavior and knowledge of their rights under the FDCPA and other laws regulating debt collection practices; and
    • Legislative issues, such as whether any modifications to the FDCPA are warranted in light of technological, economic or legal changes affecting the debt collection industry and the costs and benefits of the FTC’s proposed amendments to the FDCPA as set forth in its Annual FDCPA Report to Congress in 2005.

    The FTC has invited consumer advocates, industry representatives, state and federal regulators and others with relevant expertise to participate by submitting comments by June 6, 2007 or original research by September 7, 2007. Interested parties also may request to participate as a panelist by notifying the FTC of their interest by June 6, 2007.

    • Mike Tomkies and Chuck Gall