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FTC: Stopping abusive, unlawful debt collection practices still a top agency priority

150px-US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal.svgThe Federal Trade Commission told the Senate Subcommittee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs that combating abusive and unlawful debt collection practices is among the agency’s top priorities.

“To stop these illegal practices, the Commission maintains an active program of vigorouos law enforcement, education and public outreach, and research and policy initiatives,” James Reilly Dolan, the acting director of the FTC’s financial practices division, said on behalf of the agency.

Since January, the FTC has taken 15 enforcement actions against a number of debt collectors and obtained more than $56 million in judgments. The FTC has, in addition to civil penalty cases, brought numerous court actions against debt collectors to freeze the allegedly illegal conduct.

Dolan also said the FTC receives more complaints about debt collection than any other industry—comprising 25 percent of the total complaints received by the FTC in the past three years. He said unlawful debt collection victimizes American consumers and places law-abiding debt collection firms at a competitive disadvantage.

FTC testimony also described some of the agency’s research and policy initiatives aimed at combating abusive debt collection practices. The testimony also noted the agency’s collaborative efforts with the CFPB, which has also worked to strengthen enforcement and oversight of the debt collection industry.

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