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Mar 04, 2009

ACA International helps FTC clarify, address consumers' top complaintsMortgagePress.comFederal Trade Commission, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, ACA International, Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, Rozanne Andersen The Federal Trade Commission has released its 2009 Annual Report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). During the past few years, ACA International, The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, has worked with the FTC to improve the method by which the FTC accepts and records complaints so as to improve the accuracy of the information provided in the report. ACA is pleased to see the FTC continues to try to distinguish between consumer complaints and consumer inquiries and that the FTC recognizes that not all debt collection practices about which consumers complain are violations of the law. Of particular concern to ACA was the fact the second most common category of complaints included allegations collectors sought to collect debts that have been discharged in bankruptcy. Both the FDCPA and the Bankruptcy Code prohibit communication with consumers once they have filed for bankruptcy. However, often collectors do not receive notice of this bankruptcy filing. That is the reason ACA is proposing to amend the Bankruptcy Code to require consumers, at the time bankruptcy is filed, to provide notice to debt collectors known by the consumer to be collecting a debt. "This amendment to the Bankruptcy Code would be a very simple solution to what is obviously a widespread problem for consumers and debt collectors," commented Rozanne Andersen, ACA executive vice president and general counsel. "ACA has met with numerous Congressional offices to seek this fix and continues to seek champions on this critical issue." Another area of concern to the industry was that harassment continued to be the most frequent violation consumers complained of. "ACA International and its members believe everyone contacted by a collector is entitled to fairness and respect, and we are committed to these principles. ACA denounces any harassment of consumers," stated Gary Rippentrop, chief executive office of ACA. "ACA enforces a stringent code of ethics which goes beyond the requirements set forth by the FDCPA. For example, each member of our association is required to designate a contact person to respond to any complaints the association receives regarding that member. Every complaint ACA receives is treated seriously and is addressed by staff or the ACA Ethics Committee." ACA also provides extensive consumer education information through the ACA International Education Foundation. "When consumers are educated as to their rights under the law, they are better able to communicate effectively with debt collectors to resolve their debts," said Andersen. In April 2009 the Education Foundation will be launching a consumer education Web site, Ask Doctor Debt, which will feature a comprehensive and continually updated database of the most frequently asked questions consumers have when it comes to credit and debt collection, along with numerous tools and resources aimed at helping consumers improve their financial literacy. For more information, visit".
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