Today the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it had added several new entries to its list of banned debt collectors; a list the FTC informally calls “The Debt Collection Hall of Shame.” The FTC first issued the list in February 2015, containing individuals and companies whose behavior was so egregious that courts have banned them permanently from participating in the debt collection business. At that time, the FTC’s Hall of Shame contained 63 inductees; there are now more than 100.
Those newly added to the list came out of the efforts of Operation Collection Protection — the first coordinated federal-state enforcement initiative targeting deceptive and abusive debt collection practices. They include: Broadway Global Master Inc., K.I.P., LLC (Payday Loan Recovery Group), National Check Registry, LLC and Premier Debt Acquisitions, LLC.
I suspect I can speak for all legitimate debt collectors – as well as other stakeholders in the industry – when I say that I applaud these efforts to put scammers out of business. The FTC calls them “debt collectors,” but they are really in another category from those whose business models are not centered around deceit. They taint everyone’s image.
Many in the industry are craving clarity (and a fix for some truly grey areas in the debt collection laws such as the ability to leave voicemail messages that are not incredibly awkward for both consumers and collectors). And a great deal of time is being spent by many – on all sides of the equation – to sort this out.
I really wonder, though, whether the extraordinary effort being placed on new rules, regulations, and supervision of those who do seek to follow the law will have any effect at all on the proliferation of companies like those on the “Hall of Shame.” I don’t know that any of those entities/individuals ever attended industry conferences, participated in association activities, or anything else that would demonstrate that they attempt to operate “above board.” I doubt they would ever follow the laws, no matter what they are.
Best of all worlds: Fix the gray areas and spend even more effort shutting down the crooks, rather than on supervising those who make great effort to follow the law, and whose examinations largely turn up technical mistakes.