The FTC submitted its annual report summarizing the administrative and enforcement actions it has taken under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA” or “Act”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692- 1692o, during the past year.
These actions are part of the Commission’s ongoing effort to curtail deceptive, unfair, and abusive debt collection practices in the marketplace.
Such practices cause substantial consumer injury, including payment of amounts not owed, unintended waivers of rights, invasions of privacy, and emotional distress. In some circumstances, illegal collection practices can place consumers deeper in debt. Although the Commission is vested with primary enforcement responsibility under the FDCPA, it shares overall enforcement responsibility with other federal agencies. In addition, consumers who believe they have been victims of statutory violations may seek relief in state or federal court.
Although many debt collectors covered by the FDCPA already comply with the statute, the Commission continues to receive a significant number of complaints about those who do not. Combined, complaints about third-party debt collectors and in-house collectors in 2006 totaled 90,629 and represented 26% of all complaints the Commission received (excluding complaints about identity theft and the Do Not Call registry).
Through its FDCPA program of enforcement and education, the Commission encourages collectors who comply with the law to continue to do so, and provides strong incentives for those who are not complying to conform their future practices with the dictates of the law. Vigorous federal and state law enforcement in this area is essential to stop those debt collectors who fail to follow the FDCPA.