On May 23, California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI or Department) sent an email notifying license applicants and prospective license applicants that the issuance of licenses under the Debt Collection Licensing Act is unavoidably delayed at this time.

The original deadline for applicants was December 31, 2021; however, that deadline was extended to March 15 in mid-December. Two months later, and the Department still finds itself unable to process new applications.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has informed the DFPI that new changes are needed to state agency protocols — specifically fingerprinting — for requesting federal background checks. According to the Department, the delay was unforeseen, but is necessary to enable the DFPI to fully implement the licensing background check required under the Debt Collection Licensing Act.

The delay does not necessarily affect debt collectors doing business in the state. Per the DFPI, applicants may continue to engage in business, and the Department will not take action for unlicensed activity against applicants who filed their applications after December 31, 2021. For purposes of including California debt collector license numbers when contacting or communicating with debtors as required under Civil Code Section 1788.11, an applicant who has filed its application through NMLS may indicate “license number pending” or similar verbiage until a license is issued.

The DFPI previously has stated that persons who file an application by March 15 would be deemed temporarily in compliance with California’s licensing requirement, pending the approval of the license application. That deadline was not impacted by this new statement. In other words, while the DFPI is not yet issuing licenses, it is taking the position that only collectors who have applied for licensure are authorized to collect in California.

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Photo of Stefanie Jackman Stefanie Jackman

Stefanie devotes her practice to assisting financial services institutions facing state and federal government investigations and examinations, counseling them on complex compliance issues, as well as defending them in individual and class action lawsuits. Stefanie represents clients across the financial services industry, including…

Stefanie devotes her practice to assisting financial services institutions facing state and federal government investigations and examinations, counseling them on complex compliance issues, as well as defending them in individual and class action lawsuits. Stefanie represents clients across the financial services industry, including banks and nonbanks, mortgage banking lenders and servicers, debt collectors and buyers, third-party service providers, health care and medical revenue cycle service providers, credit and prepaid card companies, auto lenders, and fintechs. She regularly advises her clients on issues arising under an array of federal and state consumer financial laws, including UDAP/UDAAP statutes, the FDCPA, FCRA, TCPA, EFTA, SCRA, and TILA.

In addition to her litigation and government investigations work, Stefanie focuses a significant portion of her practice on providing compliance-related advice to her clients. She regularly counsels clients on conducting compliance assessments relating to their debt collection, credit reporting and dispute resolution processes, fair lending and underwriting, and vendor oversight, as well as the functionality of their overall compliance management system. Stefanie also brings her litigation and enforcement experience to bear in assisting clients in designing new products and processes, including product structuring, advertising, online application flows, underwriting, and servicing-related strategies.

Photo of Alan D. Wingfield Alan D. Wingfield

Alan Wingfield is a partner in the firm’s Consumer Financial Services practice, with a focus on Financial Services Litigation and consumer law compliance counseling. Alan has represented businesses in many venues nationally in class action and individual consumer litigation. Alan’s practice includes compliance…

Alan Wingfield is a partner in the firm’s Consumer Financial Services practice, with a focus on Financial Services Litigation and consumer law compliance counseling. Alan has represented businesses in many venues nationally in class action and individual consumer litigation. Alan’s practice includes compliance counseling to help businesses with the myriad federal and state consumer protection laws and laws regulating financial services companies.

Photo of Chris Capurso Chris Capurso

Chris’ practice focuses on consumer financial services law, primarily on federal and state law compliance matters. Chris regularly advises financial institutions, lenders, and sales finance companies in the development and maintenance of closed-end and open-end lending, automobile finance, fintech, point-of-sale, small dollar, and…

Chris’ practice focuses on consumer financial services law, primarily on federal and state law compliance matters. Chris regularly advises financial institutions, lenders, and sales finance companies in the development and maintenance of closed-end and open-end lending, automobile finance, fintech, point-of-sale, small dollar, and other credit programs. He provides guidance on federal consumer protection laws and regulations, including TILA, ECOA, ESIGN, and GLBA.

Photo of Paul Boller Paul Boller

Paul Boller helps clients navigate a variety of federal and state statutory and regulatory requirements in consumer financial services.