As certified members of DBA International, Encore Credit and Portfolio Recovery Associates are facing audits from the association following their settlements with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Both companies have been members of DBA International at least 15 years.
Encore received its certification from DBA last April. It was not immediately clear when PRA Group received its certification. There are 47 certified companies, according to a listing available on DBA’s website.
What’s interesting to note in that press release announcing Encore’s certification is the “rigorous” process DBA used to ensure that Encore met the necessary standards. From the release:
These standards address account documentation, chain of title, consumer complaint and dispute resolution, statute of limitation compliance, vendor management, credit bureau reporting, resale, and other relevant operational procedures.
Many of the items lists as part of the certification process are areas where Encore — and PRA — were found to be deficient.
DBA’s Certification Governance Document includes a section on remediation procedures, in the event allegations are made against certified companies. If the Remediation Committee decides that there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations, then it refers the matter to DBA’s Audit Committee for a “limited compliance audit.”
Among the penalties faced by both companies are:
- Private censure
- Public letter of admonition
- Suspension of certification
- Non-renewal of certification
- Expulsion from the certification program
DBA takes the penalties even a step further, outlining the types of findings that could result in each category of possible penalty. For example, private censures should only be used when the violation is “minor” and has been remediated. A public letter of admonition is used when a minor violation has not been remediated or a major violation has been remediated. Suspending a certification certificate would require a “serious legal or regulatory violation” that has not been remediated. A company should be expelled from the program when “egregious” conduct is a willful violation of law or regulation and no remediation efforts have been made.
It is what I have spoken of a lot in the past. The DBA does nothing to help its members. Any rigorous review of PRA or Encores process would have uncovered the problems and it could have been dealt with without the massive fines and bad press. Now the DBA will do an audit? Really? They could likely stand to audit everyone in their organization. By the way, Portfolio Management Group is now a member of the DBA. As much as it sickens me to give them any money for membership I think it is more fair to criticize from a membership position.
I will take this a little further. Here is a comforting bit of information. One of the presenters for the DBA International Certification programs is, as written in the brochure. “Michelle Shaffer CPA is the founder and CEO of CARMA, Inc., a DBA Approved Independent Third Party Auditor, and an audit and compliance specialty company focused on providing solutions to the debt buying and debt collection industries. Ms. Shaffer is a Compliance Expert in the ARM industry, and is the former Director of Financial Compliance for Encore Capital, where she built their audit department and audit program. She has significant industry experience developing compliance policies and procedures and internal audit programs to aid debt buyers in providing assurance to clients who demand rigid compliance with regulatory and client requirements. Ms. Shaffer is well-known in the industry for developing diligent vendor audits of law firms and collection agencies on behalf of debt buyers and attorney networks in the industry, as well as her partnership approach to auditing.” She built Encores audit department and now is an approved third party auditor. Really?
Maybe you should give them a call Mike and ask for a comment.