On Deck: An FDCPA case involving dispute letters, changes to the CPFB's complaint data reporting, and how CFPB guidance can put you out of compliance with Dodd-Frank

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Two Near-Identical Cases, Two Near-Opposite Rulings

If a credit repair agency does not have a Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA)-compliant contract with a consumer, can it send a valid dispute letter on that consumer’s behalf? Two recent cases offer completely different answers.

This summer, a judge in NY said: no CROA contract, no authority, no way. But on August 30, a judge in NJ, ruling on a case with near-identical facts, came to the opposite conclusion - and denied a motion for summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

Per the judge: the plaintiff may not have signed a CROA-compliant contract with her credit repair agency, but she insists that they acted with her “knowledge and approval” and only she has the “standing to void any contract she may have made” with the credit repair agency under the CROA.

The deets

The case involves a FDCPA claim. Plaintiff Christine Ridgeway alleged that she disputed a debt with defendant AR Resources, Inc., a debt collector, but AR Resources failed to identify the debt as disputed or to delete the debt. The letter sent did not come from her, but rather from Collection Shield 360 (CS360), a credit repair agency.

This case is not over. The judge only denied a motion for summary judgment. Hopefully AR Resources will continue to defend the case and take it to trial. Two similar cases and two disparate results... it would be nice to get some consistency from the courts.

The case: Ridgeway v. AR Resources, Inc. (Case No 16-1188, U.S.D.C., District of New Jersey)


Their ambiguity, your problem?

Former CFPB founding member and complaint process expert Jim McCarthy pushes the CFPB to clear up just what exactly it means by “timely response” – a poorly defined aspect of the complaint response process that could leave you out of compliance with Dodd-Frank if you follow CFPB guidance.

The problem, he writes, is this: “If a timely response has been established as 15 calendar days, and the elements of a response have been clearly defined, are you out of compliance if you do not include the elements of a response required by Dodd Frank in your ‘Interim’ ‘In progress’ response?”

Read up on the scenario, complete with examples, right here.



Heads-up! The CFPB makes changes to how it reports complaint data to the public

Starting in May of 2017, the Bureau started presenting complaint data differently, focusing more on "trends" -- for May, it was older Americans; for June, servicemembers, veterans, and their families -- rather than on products.

How to Interpret These Changes

One thing these revamped reports suggest is that the CFPB is publishing its data in a more consumer-friendly fashion, highlighting populations rather than products. The reports are still valuable to the collection industry, too -- in fact, maybe even moreso now, since the reports also reveal where the Bureau is focusing attention.

Compliance Professionals Forum members can read more about the change here.

Forum members: you can also these changes reflected in the freshly updated Q3 Board of Directors Slide Deck, which is packed with industry-wide compliance data and ready for your next board of directors presentation.  


TCPA and FDCPA Case Law Reviews have been updated through August

The Compliance Professionals Forum and insideARM maintain free FDCPA and TCPA case law pages. Both pages have just been updated with recent, relevant cases.

Find the updated FDCPA Review here.

Find the updated TCPA Review here.


If you haven't had a chance yet, please take our new survey on credit reporting - even if you don't credit report! The survey is open to Compliance Professionals Forum members and non-members. ALL SURVEY TAKERS will get a copy of the executive summary. Help us get the richest sample size and we can give a stronger report back to you.


Also, you might want to check out a new, free webinar, from Ontario Systems, on credit reporting and condition codes. You can register right here.