Last year was eventful, to say the least. Changes in government leadership and a massive data breach are just two of the many occurrences that will impact the ARM industry well into the new year. Let’s take a look back at the last year and reflect on what it will mean in 2018 and beyond.
In November, Richard Cordray stepped down from his post as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in order to run for the Governor’s seat in Ohio. His last act at the helm was to name his successor, Leandra English. As we all know now, this appointment was not honored, and English is still fighting a legal battle to take over as acting head of the agency.
The disagreement on leadership is not the only thing at the CFPB that indicates change for the industry. The actions taken by acting head Mick Mulvaney have shown a vastly different attitude toward regulation within the agency. For example, on January 18, the acting director submitted a quarterly budget request of $0 for the agency.
The proposal of a debt collection rule was also put on hold. A memo released just earlier this week suggests a proposed rule may be on its way soon, but the new attitude towards regulation within the bureau is giving ARM professionals hope. Many experts have said now is the time for professionals in the industry to take action and propose rules that would work for them. Some believe this could be a step toward self-regulation with a set of concise rules that collectors agree to. If that came to pass, the industry would no longer have to rely on a series of confused legal opinions and rulings to run a successful, compliant business.
While the future of industry-wide regulation is in question, another occurrence from last year may cause a shift in day-to-day interactions with consumers. The Equifax data breach, spanning from May to July of last year, was a terrifying event for much of the American public. Millions of consumers who trusted that their personal information was in safe hands suddenly felt betrayed.
The mistrust Equifax has created surrounding the system of credit and credit reporting will likely spread to other credit agencies, and to all industries where credit reporting is accessed and utilized. Consumers, already wary of those in collections, may have even more difficulty trusting that collectors' credit reporting methods are sound, and that operations are secure and above board.
The breach may have even more ramifications for the debt collection industry beyond skeptical debtors. The fallout from identity theft often takes months (or even years) to contain. This means the extent of the damage from last year’s incident may not be seen until well into the future. This possible influx in identity theft and fraudulent credit charges (not only from the Equifax breach, but others) may increase the number of disputes received by collection agencies. This can mean anything from dealing with more irate consumers to requiring additional training on how to identify the red flags of identity theft.
These possible trends for 2018 are likely, but far from set in stone. Given the current pace of news, it’s important to be informed. Be sure to stay up-to-date with the latest ARM industry news with sources you trust.
Dawn Updike is the Customer Success Manager at PDCflow. You can follow PDCflow here, on LinkedIn.