It’s been a record-setting year for the Federal Trade Commission’s ongoing campaign to shut down abusive and law-breaking debt collection operations, which routinely harass consumers and violate their rights.
The FTC, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, submitted its annual report to Congress on efforts to uphold the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is meant to protect consumers against abuses and outright fraud. Both the FTC and the CFPB are now empowered to enforce the FDCPA under the sweeping Wall Street reform enacted five years ago.
Over the past year, the FTC said it has filed 10 new debt collection cases against 56 new defendants. That’s more cases than the FTC has ever filed before in a given year.
The agency also reported that it has resolved nine cases and obtained nearly $140 million in judgments against abusive and deceptive debt collectors.
One case alone involved a record $90.5 million in judgments. Overall, the FTC shut down more than 20 debt collection companies employing nearly 500 collectors, and has collected $16.5 million from the judgments to date.
Educating consumers about their rights under the FDCPA is a key function of the FTC.
“The Commission reaches tens of millions of consumers through English and Spanish print and online materials, blog posts, and speeches and presentations,” writes the FTC in its report summary. j”To maximize its outreach efforts, FTC staff works with an informal network of about 10,000 community-based organizations and national groups that order and distribute FTC information to their members, clients, and constituents.”