Three different trade groups, including ACA International, were the only individuals or entities to file comments to a proposal from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to conduct a survey in relation to debt collection disclosure forms.
The American Bankers Association and the American Financial Services Association were the other two groups that submitted comments before the 30-day window to do so expired last week.
None of the groups wholly endorsed the CFPB’s plan to survey 8,000 individuals about the disclosures they have received when receiving debt collection notices. ACA’s was the most comprehensive of the comments that were filed, listing several concerns with the survey’s objectives.
“Using hypothetical scenarios, with questioning that requires reading and digesting disclosures, is very likely to not fully capture what a consumer would do in a real life situation when they owe a debt,” wrote Leah Dempsey, ACA International’s vice present and senior counsel of federal advocacy in the group’s comment. “Many of the questions are also complex, and it seems problematic to assume a consumer can thoughtfully answer them in the condensed timeframe of the survey.”
The ABA and AFSA opposed the idea of a survey because the reasons for conducting the survey in and of itself should be open for comments first.
ACA also pointed out that the timing of the survey — a proposed debt collection rule is due to be issued by the CFPB this month — and whether the survey information “will be included, if at all, in the forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the FDCPA” made it “impossible” to determine if the survey will comply with the Administrative Procedures Act.
Concerns about whether the CFPB was actually collecting objective data were also raised by ACA.
“For example the survey asks, ‘When you saw the notice, how did you feel?’ It then asks about different levels of whether there is a feeling of ‘Anxious, worried, or nervous,’ ‘Sad, depressed, or down,’ ‘Angry, frustrated, or annoyed,’ etc.,” Dempsey wrote. “While we understand this type of evidence may be informative in certain aspects of measuring consumer reactions, we would strongly urge that any policymaking be rooted in more data-driven analysis not based on an emotional response to owing a debt. The Bureau should also consider measuring whether consumers understand the harm that can result in their ability to access credit or services when they do not communicate with debt collectors and address unpaid debts.”