FTC Workshop: Debt Collection 2.0: Protecting Consumers As Technology Changes, Project No. P114802 #00007 

Submission Number:
00007 
Commenter:
Vytas Kisielius
Organization:
Collections Marketing Center
State:
Connecticut
Initiative Name:
FTC Workshop: Debt Collection 2.0: Protecting Consumers As Technology Changes, Project No. P114802

There appears to be a dangerous imbalance in the public discourse about the need for additional regulation of collections activities by debt collection agencies and creditors. While no one would (or should, IMHO) dispute the need to be sensitive to consumers' legitimate rights to privacy and non-harrassment, there has been too little acknowledgment of the legitimate rights of creditors to receive payment for monies they have lent and to pursue appropriate courses of action in order to enter into dialogue with their customers. We need a balanced discussion that recognizes both sides' needs, rights, and available options. Laws and regulations need to acknowledge that new technologies exist, and can/should be used, to make it easier and more convenient for consumers to interact with creditors in ways that reduce complaints, speed the process, improve efficiencies (so creditors can afford to lend more freely) and ultimately improve the consumers' experience. Just as noone should be suggesting that lenders must put out money without having a dependable way to ensure that they are repaid, none of the creditors we have worked with are suggesting that they should be able to trample a customer's rights in the process. Balance, and the appropriate use of technology to achieve and monitor and maintain that balance, are the key for both creditors' and consumers' best interests to be served. We have written a white paper about the use of collections operations as a marketing tool (!) to retain customers, attached, which enumerates these points. We have also written a white paper that describes the technological evolution underway and the challenges that evolution creates for creditors -- the equal challenge is for our industry's regulators to embrace and understand, not fear, the proper use of these evolving technologies. The question i would put to the panel is this: How should we embrace the future and build regulations that help ensure that these new contact and interaction methods are being used to further consumer access to credit and satisfaction with their creditors, while allowing creditors to increase their effectiveness so all are better served (rather than fearing the unknown)? Thank you, Vytas