Commission Releases 21st Annual Report to Congress about Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

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In its 21st Annual Report to Congress about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Federal Trade Commission observed that debt collection continued to be a principal subject of the many consumer complaints received by the agency in 1998. This law, which was passed in 1977, is one of several credit laws enforced by the Commission, and is specifically intended to prevent abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices in the marketplace.

According to the Commission's report, "Such practices have been known to cause various forms of consumer injury, including emotional distress, invasions of privacy, payment of amounts that are not owed, and can severely hamper consumers' ability to function effectively at work." The report notes that while the agency has primary enforcement responsibility, it works with other federal agencies to enforce the Act and educate consumers. In addition to identifying practices that cause consumer concern, the report also highlighted the Commission's enforcement and consumer education efforts. Further, the report contains four recommendations for changes to the FDCPA that the Commission believes will improve the statute's clarity and its effectiveness as a law enforcement tool.

The Commission vote to approve the report was 3-0, with Commissioner Orson Swindle not participating due to illness.

Copies of the Commission's report and other information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are available from the FTC's web site at and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

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