FTC Roundtable to Discuss Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration; Call for Public Comments

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission and the Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth at Northwestern University School of Law will host a two-day public event on consumer protection issues in debt collection proceedings against individual consumers. This will be the first in a series of FTC roundtable discussions on these topics.

WHAT: “Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration:
A Roundtable Discussion”
WHEN: August 5 and 6, 2009
WHERE: Thorne Auditorium, Northwestern Law School
375 E. Chicago Ave. (Corner of Lake Shore Drive)
Chicago, IL 60611

This Roundtable follows up on the Commission’s February 2009 Report, Collecting Consumer Debts: The Challenges of Change – A Workshop Report, which recommended that the debt collection regulatory system in the United States should be reformed and modernized. The Report also announced that the FTC would hold regional roundtables to help develop policy recommendations related to debt collection litigation and arbitration proceedings against individual consumers. The Chicago event will be the first of these roundtable discussions for state court judges, government officials, debt collectors, consumer advocates, academics, and other stakeholders.

The first day of the Roundtable, August 5, will cover consumer debt collection litigation topics, such as service of process, consumer default rates, time-barred debts, evidentiary requirements and burdens in collections actions, and post-judgment issues. The second day of the Roundtable, August 6, will cover consumer debt collection arbitration topics, such as the role of consumer choice, consumer arbitration codes and protocols, perceptions of bias, transparency of results, and post-decision issues.

The Roundtable is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required. Details can be found at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/debtcollectround/index.shtm. Watch this Web site for information about whether the Commission will be able to offer a live webcast of the event for those who wish to participate but cannot attend.

The Commission invites interested parties to submit requests to be discussants and to recommend other topics for discussion. The requests should be submitted electronically to consumerdebtevents@ftc.gov by July 1, 2009. Interested parties should include both a statement detailing their expertise on the issues to be addressed and complete contact information. The Commission will invite discussants based on their expertise and on the need to represent a range of views.

Interested parties are also highly encouraged to submit written comments or original research through August 1, 2009. Comments should refer to “Debt Collection Roundtable – Comment, Project No. P094806.” To file electronically, follow the instructions and fill out the form at https://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-debtcollectroundtable1. Paper comments should include the above reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex A), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Comments containing confidential material, however, must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with Commission Rule 4.9(c). The FTC requests that any paper comments be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. If you need an accommodation related to a disability, please call Bevin Murphy at 202-326-3224 or via e-mail at consumerdebtevents@ftc.gov. Your request should include a detailed description of the accommodations you need and a way to contact you if we need more information. Please provide advance notice.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2180
STAFF CONTACT:
Julie Bush
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3608