Why You Should Start Reading the Debt Collection Rule Near The End, Not At The Beginning

The debt collection rule released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on October 30 is 653 pages long, which is a lot to digest for even the most ardent bibliophile among us in the industry. But unlike a saucy romance novel or a riveting courtroom drama the debt collection rule is not necessarily best read by starting at page 1 and continuing through until you get to the end.

In the second episode of “You Wanted a Rule, You Got a Rule,” John Bedard of the Bedard Law Group explains how he thinks the document should be read, in order to maximize how the reader understands the components of the debt collection rule.

Bedard recommends that everyone actually start reading at Page 561 of the document, which is where the text of the rule can be found. From there, people should read one section of the rule, and then go to the front section of the document and read the CFPB’s analysis of that particular section. To help, Bedard has created an index that can used to navigate through the different sections of the rule and the different sections of the document.

“I read the rule, then I read the analysis, then what I’ll do is I’ll go forward all the way to the end and read the official interpretation of that particular section of the rule,” Bedard said. “So that when I’m finished reading that portion of the rule, I will have read the analysis, the rule, and also the official interpretation right next to each other right at the same time. That, in my view, is better than reading it straight through because first you’re getting all the analysis on all the sections, then you’ll get all the sections of the rule, then you’ll get all the interpretation.”

Some individuals may want to skip the preamble and get right to page 561, ignoring everything that comes before it. That is a mistake, Bedard said.

“In order to get a good understanding of what the rule is, it’s very, very helpful to understand what they were thinking when they made the rule,” Bedard said. “Sometimes the content of the actual rule does not adequately explain how a collector is expected to behave. And so, what you do, is you go into the analysis, because they drop nuggets in the analysis on how they expect collectors to behave. Now, that’s not the law, that’s not the rule. But it sure is helpful to know what the Bureau expects, and you can be rest assured that consumers and consumer Attorneys and courts and judges, they’re going to be looking at that, too, as persuasive authority on what the rule actually means or how we’re supposed to apply the rule to a particular set of facts.”

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