“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.” – Louis D. Brandeis
On November 4, 2015, the Federal Trade Commission, an independent agency of the U.S. government, and other U.S. law enforcement officials announced the beginning of Operation Collection Protection. This is a coordinated federal-state enforcement initiative concerning deceptive and illegal or abusive debt collectors. The measure will help consumers be better protected.
Illegal Debt Collection
According to Operation Collection Protection, debt collectors cannot use deceptive or abusive practices for debt collection purposes. The measure isn’t about new legal actions or insights. In fact, it signals that regulators’ attempts against the debt collection industry will continue.
The initiative is developed to help U.S. regulators coordinate and inform other law enforcement bodies about existing illegal activities. To run this program, the FTC operates in partnership with the U.S. law enforcement, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Justice, Attorneys General from 47 states and the District of Columbia, and local law enforcement authorities.
30 law enforcement actions by state, federal, and local law enforcement authorities against illegal debt collection have recently been reviewed by the initiative. Illegal debt collection included such tactics as phone call harassment, false threats of litigation, wage garnishment, arrest, and the failure to provide consumers with legally required disclosures and notices, or to act according to local and state licensing requirements.
Given collection agency merchant accounts are high risk in nature, it is extremely important to choose a dependable processor on the market to enjoy competitive rates and secure payment gateway. Turning to EMB, agencies can get a reliable high risk account such as a collection agency merchant account for their business.
Consumers Vs. Debt Collection Agencies
As FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez mentioned, nearly 30 million people have at least 1 collection account, and U.S. debt collectors contact 1 billion consumers each year. She added that the majority of complaints received were about the debt collection industry. In 2014, they received more than 280.000 complaints from consumers who claimed federal authorities were related to all those cases.
Operation Collection Protection is called to prohibit the defendants from providing misleading representation of financial services and products. It doesn’t allow collectors to make a profit from customers’ personal information.
All interested collection agencies can contact EMB, number 1 provider of merchant accounts for the collection agency industry. The company is the preferred processor for industry-leading Collections Software and Collections Max.
It is interesting to note that a Texas-based collection agency, “Tucker, Albin and Associates Inc.”, was fined $500.000 as it was supposed to be harassing and threatening small businesses operating in Minnesota. The Minnesota Commerce Department had never imposed a larger penalty on a collection agency than the mentioned one.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Minnesota Commerce Department Commissioner Mike Rothman state most collection agencies are licensed and legitimate. However, consumers need to be better protected through strong measures and coordination.