A vote by the Washington State Collection Agency Board on an emergency proposal to clarify state regulations on what constitutes a branch office in order to allow employees of collection agencies to work from home was canceled at the last minute yesterday after critics of the idea complained that there was not enough notice about the initiative.
The Washington Collector’s Association issued a statement after the proposed remote meeting was canceled, saying it is “hopeful” that the meeting will be re-scheduled so collectors can be allowed to work from home. “We will continue to advocate for the safety of our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining data security and consumer protections,” the association said in a published report.
The Collection Agency Board, which is part of Washington’s Department of Licensing, had called the remote meeting earlier this week. The sole objective of the meeting, according to a copy of the agenda that was posted online, was to clarify how a “branch office” was defined under state law. Currently, a branch office is defined as “any location physically separated from the principal place of business of a licensee where the licensee conducts any activity meeting the criteria of a collection agency or out-of-state collection agency as defined in RCW 19.16.100.” The Board was seeking to clarify the branch office definition to exclude “employees.”
A date for the re-scheduled meeting has not yet been announced.
Members of the Collection Agency Board who represent the general public were critical of both the proposal and the means through which it was proposed, according to a published report.
“The rule presented to me yesterday afternoon is vague and does not address key aspects of accountable collection practices that could be lost in remote work, such as centralization and oversight, training, and secure data collection,” said Mari Neubauer, one of the CAB’s members.