CFPB Calls For Greater Data Integrity in Debt Collection

Steven Antonakes

Steven Antonakes

Recent remarks from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Deputy Director Steven Antonakes indicate that the CFPB remains particularly interested in data integrity during debt collection.

Speaking at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition Annual Conference in Washington yesterday, Antonakes said the bureau is “concerned that the accuracy of account information degrades as it passed on from the original creditor to debt collection firms or debt buyers.” Antonakes also suggested that improvements in data integrity will further the bureau’s efforts “to ensure that collectors are seeking to recover debts from the right person in the right amounts.”

Concerns over data integrity are consistent with the bureau’s policy statement in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking under the the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. There, it said:

“The Bureau believes that improving the integrity and flow of information within the debt collection system is of critical importance.”

The ANPR sought information on the adequacy of information included in debt sales or that is provided by creditors to their third-party collectors. The Bureau’s concerns over data integrity are not limited to consumers’ financial information. Information concerning disputes by consumers or their demands to cease collections communications are within the scope of data integrity. So too would be information concerning a consumer’s representation by counsel. The CFPB is just as interested in how this information is communicated among participants in the debt collection process.

If the CFPB does issue FDCPA rules, expect it to include requirements designed to ensure the collection, maintenance and transfer of accurate information throughout the debt collection process. All participants in the creation, sale and collection of consumer debt should examine their operations and consider whether any measures can be deployed to enhance data integrity, whether it is information they create or acquire from a third party.

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Donald Maurice provides counsel to the financial services industry, successfully litigating matters in the state and federal courts in individual and class actions. He has successfully argued before the Third, Fourth and Eighth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals, and has represented the financial services industry before several courts including as counsel for amicus curiae before the United States Supreme Court. He counsels clients in regulatory actions before the CFPB, and other federal and state regulators and in the development and testing of debt collection compliance systems. Don is peer-rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, the worldwide guide to lawyers. In addition to being a frequent speaker and author on consumer financial services law, he serves as outside counsel to RMA International, on the governing Board of Regents of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers and on the Governing Committee of the Conference on Consumer Finance Law. From 2014 to 2017, he chaired the ABA's Bankruptcy and Debt Collection Subcommittee.