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Continued: FTC hits major debt collector with $3.2 million penalty

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 10, 2013 - 11:25 AM

Mark Schiffman, spokesman for the Minneapolis-based ACA International, which represents third-party debt collection companies, said he doesn’t comment on specific company legal matters. Collections are a fact of life in a credit-based economy, he said, and consumers have important rights and “deserve to be treated fairly.”

Much of the attention has been on third-party debt collectors and buyers. But the debt collection and selling practices of major banks and other first-party collectors have been drawing attention. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates major banks, has acknowledged concerns about debt sale practices among national banks and issued guidance to bank examiners, but a spokesman would not confirm whether it’s conducting an investigation.

In May, California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, sued JPMorgan Chase & Co., accusing it of running “a massive debt collection mill” that has been flooding the state’s courts with “specious” lawsuits against consumers.

Banks and others extending credit to consumers are not necessarily subject to the same rules as third-party bill collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Elwood said.

“That’s the one glaring gap in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — it doesn’t apply to first-party collectors,” he said.

 

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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