On December 14, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officially withdrew a proposal to conduct a web-based consumer survey on the various debt collection disclosures required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. According to the accompanying Notice of Action, the proposal was withdrawn at the CFPB’s request because the “Bureau leadership would like to reconsider the information collection in connection with its review of the ongoing related rulemaking.”
Published in June 2017, the purpose of the survey was to “explore consumer comprehension and decision making in response to debt collection disclosure forms” by collecting 8,000 completed surveys from targeted groups of participants. These groups would have included both individuals who have experienced debt collections in the past 24 months as well as a random sample of those with no such debt collections in the same timeframe. The CFPB expected the results of the survey to yield information regarding the clarity of debt disclosure forms as well information that would benefit the future development of effective debt collection disclosures. The estimated cost of the survey was set at just over $371,500.
Public comments on the proposal included submissions from the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, the Consumer Bankers Association, the National Consumer Law Center, and the American Bankers Association. Most comments were critical of the proposed survey for failing to include the specific disclosures it was using as a basis for the survey questions. The commentators also pointed to certain methodological flaws within the survey that should be improved prior to implementation. In the end, the CFPB decided to scrap the proposed survey rather than implement the suggested changes.
Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor the activities of the CFPB under its new leadership and will report on any future developments.