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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB and FTC release 2021 FDCPA report

Federal Issues CFPB FTC Enforcement FDCPA Debt Collection FTC Act Covid-19 Consumer Complaints

Federal Issues

On April 15, the CFPB and the FTC released their annual report to Congress on the administration of the FDCPA (see announcements here and here). The agencies are delegated joint FDCPA enforcement responsibility and, pursuant to a 2019 memorandum of understanding, may share supervisory and consumer complaint information, as well as collaborate on education efforts (covered by InfoBytes here). Among other things, the annual report provided a broad overview of the debt collection industry during the Covid-19 pandemic and highlighted enforcement actions taken by, and education and outreach efforts, policy initiatives, and supervisory findings of, the CFPB and FTC. With respect to enforcement, the report noted that: (i) the FTC resolved three FDCPA cases against 17 defendants and banned all 17 companies and individuals who engaged in serious and repeated violations of law from engaging in debt collection; (ii) there was one new public enforcement action brought in 2021 related to unlawful debt collection conduct; (iii) the Bureau resolved two pending lawsuits with FDCPA claims and also filed an action to recover a fraudulent transfer to enforce a prior judgment that penalized a defendant’s FDCPA violations, which resulted in judgments for $2.26 million in consumer redress; and (iv) by the end of 2021, the Bureau had three FDCPA enforcement actions pending in federal court. The report also noted that the CFPB handled roughly 121,700 debt collection complaints in 2021, of which the Bureau sent approximately 73,600 (or 60 percent) to companies for their review and response. Finally, the report also noted that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in AMG Capital Management v. FTC “made it much more difficult for the FTC to obtain monetary relief for unfair or deceptive debt collection practices that fall outside the scope of the FDCPA.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, in that decision the Court unanimously held that Section 13(b) of the FTC Act “does not authorize the Commission to seek, or a court to award, equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement.”