On June 15, the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New York State Attorney General hosted a “Debt Collection Dialogue” in Buffalo, New York.  FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Jessica Rich and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman delivered opening remarks, and officials from the New York State Department of Financial Services and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made presentations.

Attorney General Schneiderman discussed the importance of federal and state officials working together.  Schneiderman also shared his philosophy regarding New York’s final rule, recently issued by DFS, regulating debt collection practices.  By providing a clear framework, he said, the rule will make things easier for legitimate companies, and significantly more challenging for unscrupulous ones.  Attendees also learned of new guidance from the New York State Department of Financial Services on the rule, as DFS released new clarifications on June 16.  The clarifications supplement DFS’s initial set of “Frequently Asked Questions” released in February.

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, reviewed debt collection complaint statistics and data related to enforcement actions.  She noted that the FTC already filed eight new debt collection cases in 2015, has expanded debt collection efforts, and will continue to expand such efforts until the problems abate.  Rich also expressed the FTC’s interest in partnering with the collection industry to stop bad actors, highlighting the first joint collaboration between the FTC and the CFPB in the Green Tree Servicing case.  Christopher Koegel, Assistant Director of the FTC Division of Financial Practices, further highlighted the FTC’s three enforcement priorities – data integrity and security, egregious collection practices, and student loan collection.

The FTC will hold similar events around the country, including in Dallas and Atlanta, later this year.  The FTC and its state and federal law enforcement partners will discuss recent enforcement actions, consumer complaints about debt collection practices, and compliance issues.  All of the events will be free and open to the public.