FTC Seeks Public Comments on Petition of SCI Corporation International for Approval to Divest Cemetery and Related Funeral Home to Legacy Funeral Holdings; FTC Orders Buyers of Consumer Debt to Submit Information for Study of Debt Buying Industry

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FTC Seeks Public Comments on Petition of SCI Corporation International for Approval to Divest Cemetery and Related Funeral Home to Legacy Funeral Holdings

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comments on a petition by SCI Corporation International for approval to divest the Davis Memorial Park cemetery and related funeral home in Las Vegas, Nevada, to Legacy Funeral Holdings of Nevada, LLC. Under the terms of an FTC consent order announced in November 2009, SCI is required to divest these businesses to remedy the competition issues raised by SCI’s acquisition of Palm Mortuary, Inc. On December 3, 2009, SCI completed its acquisition of Palm, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of SCI. To comply with the consent order in this matter, SCI has now requested FTC approval to sell the relevant cemetery service assets to Legacy Nevada.

The Commission is accepting public comments on SCI’s petition for 30 days, until February 1, 2010.  Written comments should be sent to:  FTC Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To file a comment, please click on the following hyperlink: https://public.commentworks.com/ftc/sci-legacy and follow the instructions at that site.  Copies of the petition can be found on the FTC’s Web site and as a link to this press release.  (FTC Docket No. C-4275; the staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2526; see press release dated November 25, 2009, at: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/11/sci.shtm.)

FTC Orders Buyers of Consumer Debt to Submit Information for Study of Debt Buying Industry

The Federal Trade Commission has ordered the nation’s largest consumer debt buyers to turn over information about their practices in buying and collecting consumer debt, which the FTC intends to use for a study of the debt-buying industry. Consumers have reported that debt collectors frequently try to collect from the wrong consumers or the wrong amounts, or both. The FTC is seeking information to determine whether buyers of consumer debt are contributing to these problems.

The FTC sent the orders to nine companies that are in the business of buying consumer debts and then trying to collect on those debts, either on their own or by hiring debt collection firms. These nine companies collectively purchase about 75 percent of the debt sold in the United States.

Creditors often sell debt they have been unable to collect to companies known as debt buyers. When debts are sold, the buyers receive information about the debtor and the debt from the sellers. Debt buyers try to collect on the debt they purchase, and if they do not get paid, they often sell the debt to other debt buyers. Many debts are purchased and resold several times over a period of years before all collection efforts finally cease.

Over the past decade, debt buyers have become a significant part of the debt collection system. In February 2009, the FTC issued a report based on an agency Debt Collection Workshop in which it found major problems in the flow of information among creditors, debt buyers, and collectors. Information the FTC gathers from the orders will allow it to determine how shortcomings in the flow of information affect debt buyers, debt collectors, and consumers. The agency has authority to issue the orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act.

The Commission vote to issue each order was 4-0. (FTC File No. P095510; the staff contacts are Margaret Patterson or Daniel Becker, Bureau of Economics, 202-326-3472 or 202-326-3635; and Thomas Kane, Division of Financial Practices, 202-326-2304.)

Copies of the SCI petition mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

(FYI .1.2010.wpd)

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