ACA Questions CFPB’s Motives in Seeking Delay of Debt Collection Rule

ACA International has submitted its comment to a proposal from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to delay the enactment of Regulation F, its debt collection rule, arguing that postponing the effective date of the rule for 60 days — to January 29, 2022 — would not likely “have a meaningful impact” on the readiness of collectors to comply with the regulation’s provisions. Rather than delay the effective date, ACA International suggested that the CFPB would be better off delaying the enforcement of the rule’s provisions for between six months and a year after the effective date, which is currently set for November 30. The association also questioned the motivations behind the proposed delay, saying that nobody in the industry has asked for more time to comply.

The CFPB proposed last month to delay the effective date of its debt collection rule for 60 days, saying the additional time would allow companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic “additional time to review and implement the rules.” But, as ACA pointed out in its comment, the CFPB has made conflicting statements about the alleged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the companies it regulates and how those companies have responded to the pandemic.

Prior to announcing the proposal to delay the rule’s effective date, the CFPB rescinded guidance it had issued related to compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, saying that companies “have adjusted operations” in response to the pandemic and “demonstrated improved business continuity.”

The association also wondered whether the proposed delay “is a first, disguised step in an attempt to circumvent” the Administrative Procedures Act because the rule has already been published in the Federal Register.

Finally, ACA International notes that the CFPB has been working on this rule since 2013 and has done a lot to get the rule to this point. While the rule is not perfect by “any stretch of the imagination,” it does provide “clear final rules of the road for both consumers and the ARM industry.”

To date, only three comments have been filed on the CFPB’s proposal to delay the effective date. The comment period will remain open through May 19. Comments may be filed here.

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