Wouldn’t it be great if you could see all the most dangerous compliance pitfalls before they become large and costly mistakes? Of course this is difficult to do considering the number of possible problems and regulators’ shaky definitions of them. However, many hope for clarity in 2019. Collection Advisor also sought advice from other leading attorneys in the industry to identify major pitfalls you must take care to avoid in 2019. David J. Kaminski, Esq, partner and chair of the Financial Services and Class Action Group at Carlson & Messer LLP see possibility. Kaminski specializes in defending banks, collection agencies and creditors in all areas of financial services litigation and is a recognized authority regarding consumer litigation laws.

“The question is: what is the FCC going to do and what is the Supreme court going to do,” said Kaminski. “Marks v. Crunch San Diego may be heard by the Supreme Court. Also, proposed rulemaking on TCPA from the FCC concerning what constitutes an ATDS is poised to occur.

“A Supreme court ruling will determine how much deference is given to final orders of the FCC will be very interesting. District courts may determine how much deference these rulings are given. The decision will come down in 2019. Meanwhile, the CFPB says it is business as usual with the same gusto as pre-Mulvaney. That remains to be seen.”

barton dennisDennis J. Barton III
Managing Attorney
The Barton Law Group, LLC

Our focus is usually on compliance with federal laws and the BCFP. State and local regulators, however, are increasing their oversight with more nationwide audits. A new emphasis has also emerged on the coordination between federal and state agencies across the country to find similarities and patterns in violations and identify repeat offenders. As a result, collectors must be mindful of state laws and local ordinances and allocate resources to ensure compliance at these levels.

bedard johnJohn H. Bedard, Jr.
Bedard Law Group, P.C.

Letters may be the single biggest area of risk to a collection agency which is most easily and cheaply avoided. In 2019, collectors need to refocus on letter processes, procedures, and controls to ensure that content and timing fall within legal parameters.

June Coleman
Of Counsel
Carlson & Messer LLP

Cases involving collection letters are on the rise, providing potential class action liability. A common pitfall is to not review your collection letters to ensure they are compliant with the ever-changing FDCPA legal landscape. Better yet, have an attorney familiar with the FDCPA review your letters for compliance. Not only will this compliance attorney be aware of current cases, this fresh set of eyes will be able to catch things you might miss.

Harvey Moore
The Moore Law Group, APC

It is critical that you stay on top of changes in the laws and regulations in the state(s) in which you practice. I anticipate increased movement by state legislatures and Attorneys General to modify the respective rights of creditors/collectors/consumers and none of those changes will make it easier to collect legitimate credit obligations.

Joann Needleman
Member and Leader of the Financial Services and Regulatory and Compliance Group
Clark Hill PLC

The #1 compliance pitfall for 2019 is complacency. Deregulation has not arrived nor will it. While enforcement actions may have decreased, oversight has not. For the third party collections industry, you will always be someone’s vendor and those compliance expectations will not go away. Finally, don’t overlook the states. Pennsylvania and New Jersey have created “state-level CFPBs” and look for many states to follow the lead of Maryland and enact aggressive consumer protection statutes to address “abusive practices” which will also cover debt collection activity.

Rick Perr
Partner and Chair of Firm’s Consumer Financial Services Practices Group
Fineman Krekstein & Harris, P.C.

Class action lawsuits. By taking the simple step of having your letters reviewed twice a year or even just yearly, an agency can cut down on the potential to be sued on a class action basis. Most courts, regardless of the merits of a case, will certify a class based on a letter mistake. This is significantly higher than an alleged violation based on telephonic or other communication methods.