By: W. Judd Peak, corporate compliance officer of Frost-Arnett
Last month, I had the privilege to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with various members of Congress to discuss laws and regulations affecting the revenue cycle management industry. In one-on-one meetings, we conferred over the overreach of federal statutes and enforcement agencies that often tend to harm, not help, consumers and collection agencies alike. This was all part of an effort to highlight those issues of interest to us, as well as counter the recurring negative stereotype of the debt collection industry popularly portrayed. Two recurring topics emerged from my meetings: the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its oversight of the collections industry. Not only are these two issues that keep me up at night, but they also seem to be universally loathed.
Regarding the TCPA, I used my me in Washington to urge a few reforms:
- Amend the statute to more clearly define “capacity” to autodial telephone numbers, and for a stricter definition of “called party;”
- Create a safe harbor for companies who inadvertently dial wrong numbers (e.g., where the consumer telephone number has been reassigned to a third party); and
- Press the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (the governmental agency charged with oversight of the TCPA) to exercise its regulatory power to embrace new dialing technologies, not run from them.
The legislators uniformly agreed with these sentiments. The likelihood of amending the 25-year old statute, however, is unlikely; instead, reform could come through the Congressional appropriations process.
Similarly, I enjoyed congenial discussions about the CFPB. My primary talking points were to explain how the CFPB’s industry influence is unrivaled; it enjoys much less oversight than nearly every other governmental entity. Moreover, the CFPB has targeted the “Large Market Participants” (companies with revenues above a certain arbitrary threshold) – who are the same organizations more likely to have robust compliance departments and processes in place to protect consumers from harm! I urged the Congressmen I spoke with to consider some degree of reformation of the CFPB – install a bipartisan board, and bring the bureau under Congressional oversight. Hopefully, these and other efforts from our industry will bear fruit in the future and assist in changing the regulatory climate for the better.