Three Important Reminders For National Consumer Protection Week

February 28th, 2014

From March 2-8, 2014, it will be the Federal Trade Commission's National Consumer Protection Week. This creates an opportunity for businesses across a number of industries to think about and discuss the importance of certain practices to protect the best interests of consumers.

In the collection industry this is an especially sensitive topic. The negative stigma often attached to our industry results, in part, from the difficult nature of the conversations we have with consumers. Those instances of abusive practices by the bad apples in our industry are especially harmful.

At TAG we make a commitment each and every day to treat consumers with respect and protect their best interests. More importantly, we are not alone in that commitment. With that in mind, here are three important reminders for National Consumer Protection Week.

1. The majority of collection agencies are ethical and protect consumers

This is perhaps the most important takeaway. It is not fair to take the abusive actions of the few and let them stand in for the entire industry. As such, ACA International is working on proposed plans of action to protect consumers:

" (ACA CEO Pat) Morris added that harassment, threats and other illegal activity are unacceptable and violators must be held accountable. ACA members are working with regulators, Congress and state leaders to ensure a balanced debt collection system that protects consumers and allows the legitimate collection of debt to function."

ACA also lays out five important rights that consumers should have protected under federal and state laws.

  1. Respect
  2. Identify
  3. Communicate
  4. Validate
  5. Protect

2. Collections play an important role in the economy

When collection agents work together with consumers to resolve their debts, it benefits the individual who pays as well as others because of the role collection industries play in the economic cycle. Pat Morris of ACA writes the following:

"Engaging third party debt collectors to recover these debts helps reduce the cost of goods and services, allows affordable credit to be available, reduces the need for future tax increases...It’s not only the non-profit and private sectors that benefit from debt collection. Federal, state, and local government also rely on the repayment of billions of taxpayer owed dollars in delinquencies including uncollected court fees, unpaid taxes, library fines, and traffic tickets.”

3. There are valuable resources available

Across many industries there are resources and advocacy outlets that provide information to consumers. In the case of the collections industry, we cannot say enough about the quality of AskDoctorDebt.org, a site created by the ACA International Education Foundation to provide impartial answers to people's questions about the process. The best thing about AskDoctorDebt is the depth it provides, answering specific questions about many sub-topics. It offers much more than blanket or overgeneralized answers to questions people have about situations that can often be uncomfortable or intimidating.

We should always show our commitment to protecting consumers, but next week's Consumer Protection week will provide valuable information about best practices and just what that protection should look like.