Good Or Bad: Do What It Takes
Let me start the Compliance Corner with a legal disclaimer: What I am about to say is my opinion, not the opinion of my employer – regulation can be a good thing. Here’s why: Laws can even the playing field. For instance, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts sets forth standards of conduct for all collection agencies; we do not want agencies who do not comply with the law to benefit from being bad actors (Did you hear about the agency that constructed a fake court room to deceive consumers?).
Bankruptcy laws also set a standard by attempting to treat all similarly situated creditors equally; no unsecured creditor is preferred over another.
Now, I said regulation can be a good thing. That is not the same as saying regulation is always a good thing. It just has the potential to be a good thing. And because it has the potential to be a good thing, it can be well, a bad thing. And in the area of potentially good or bad things, we are watching two different laws and the regulations issued under those laws in the next year.
First, at the beginning of 2010, the Federal Communications Commission submitted proposed rules to amend regulations pertaining to the use of automatic telephone dialing equipment to place calls to wireless numbers. The FCC is the body that implements the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The TCPA was designed to protect consumers from unsolicited telemarketing calls (a good thing), but has been stretched to attempt to include almost anyone using certain dialing technology (a bad thing). ACA International and others submitted comments to the FCC opposing those proposed rules essentially on the grounds that the regulations adversely affect those who are not telemarketers. At the same time, comments were submitted asking the FCC to clarify the use of technology like predictive contact platforms, which can be used to reach a defined set of consumers. We are still waiting to hear what the FCC will do with the proposed regulations.
Second, you may be familiar with the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 enacted last year. The CFPA was drafted to enhance oversight and control of financial institutions and designed to prevent future financial crises. It appears that collection agencies will be subject to certain of the the CFPA provisions. Among other things, the CFPA created a new federal agency – the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. The BCFP will have the authority to create regulations and issue orders and guidance, including the authority to promulgate rules under the FDCPA. Some may see this as a bad thing since there is the possibility of adverse regulation. On the other hand, this can be a good thing since there are provisions in the FDCPA that need updating and the BFCP can accomplish that with some thoughtful rulemaking and guidance.
Whether good or bad, we will continue to keep abreast of, and in compliance with, regulations.
About State Collection Service, Inc.
Since 1949, State Collection Service has provided quality collection service to countless healthcare organizations.
Through experience and innovation, State Collection Service has grown to become a tremendously credible and nationally-recognized collection agency offering services from pre-registration to bad debt. It is upon the basis of ethical behavior and a dedication to integrity that each State Collection Service employee works to uphold the company’s vision – Partnerships for a Lifetime.