If the Receivables Management Association International’s (RMAI) 2020 annual conference was any gauge of the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry’s future, I would say business is in for another good run. More than 1,300 debt buyers, first- and third-party collectors, government officials, and service providers descended on Las Vegas for what I believe was the best education conference I’ve attended in years.
Session attendance was so strong, presentations were often made to standing room–only crowds, and the Exhibit Hall was no exception.
Over the course of the four-day event, certain themes dominated the conversation: digital consumer communications; diversity, inclusion, and ADA compliance; the CFPB’s new rules for debt collection; and new legal theories plaintiffs’ attorneys are formulating in the name of consumer protection.
Let’s dive into each of these RMAI themes one by one.
One-way and two-way text messaging, along with email communications and the use of secure URL links, are coming of age for debt collectors. Yet E-Sign consent remains a challenging topic both conceptually and technically for the industry as a whole.
To properly obtain a consumer’s consent to substitute the digital delivery of a legally required disclosure or legally required written document (such as a validation notice or post-dated payment reminder), a collector must require the consumer to demonstrate their ability to send and receive the information at the mobile number or the email address they choose for this purpose. E-Sign consent is not valid until the demonstration is complete.
Diversity, Inclusion, and ADA Compliance
Three years ago, these topics would not have been included in a session agenda for an ARM industry conference. Today, they’re among the industry’s hottest topics.
First- and third-party collectors employ over 130,000 people of diverse backgrounds. Understanding how to manage individuals who vary by age, socioeconomic status, race, gender, and religious beliefs has become critically important to organizational success. By including people from diverse groups in the decision-making process—from the front line all the way to the C suite—companies can positively impact their employee retention rates, brand reputation, and profitability.
ARM businesses should be equally focused on meeting the needs of diverse consumers—including those with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has traditionally applied to brick-and-mortar businesses, but the 9th Circuit made the ADA come alive for the ARM industry in the matter of Domino’s Pizza LLC v. Robles.
Domino’s argued that companies were not required under the law to make their websites and mobile apps fully accessible so long as they offered customers with disabilities other options for accessing the goods and services, such as a telephone hotline.
The 9th Circuit disagreed. The Court held the ADA applies to a company’s website and mobile app as well as any brick-and-mortar presence it may have. In the Court’s opinion, the ADA “applies to the services of a place of public accommodation, not services in a place of public accommodation” (emphasis added).
CFPB’s New Rules for Debt Collection
The RMAI conference buzzed with the unofficial announcement that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be publishing its final rules for debt collection in Q2 or Q3 of 2020. The new rules will take effect one year after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
If the CFPB is true to its “word,” albeit unofficial, this means agencies will have months, not years, to adapt—i.e., update their policies and procedures, reengineer their software applications, modify creditor-client contracts, embrace technology to communicate digitally, and incorporate artificial intelligence in their contact management workflow.
Attendees also learned the CFPB plans to publish a new rule for out-of-statute debt. In its notice of proposed rulemaking for debt collection, the CFPB reserved the right to study issues pertaining to the collection of out-of-statute debt. After many months of research, the CFPB has identified disclosure requirements for the collection of out-of-statute debt. The new rule for out-of-statute debt collection, once final, will be included in the comprehensive final rules for debt collection.
New Legal Theories and Claims
One of the required courses for RMAI certification is the ever-popular Hot Topics session presented by a panel of RMAI-certified attorneys. This year’s Hot Topics included an explanation of a new claims attacking the validity of a judgment on the grounds:
- The judgment was obtained by an unlicensed debt buyer;
- An incorrect interest rate was applied to the judgment total; or
- The underlying debt was not valid, and the original service of process was insufficient.
Other hot topics included a discussion of the difference between convenience fees charged by agencies and convenience fees charged by third-party processors as well as issues relating to credit reporting and trade line deletion practices.
Throughout the conference, Solutions by Text did a fantastic job updating the attendees with information about the networking events and providing them with access to PowerPoint decks and materials for the sessions.
For additional information about the RMAI conference or any of the topics mentioned above, visit https://rmaintl.org/.
Disclaimer: Ontario Systems is a technology company and provides this blog article solely for general informational and marketing purposes. You should not rely on the content of this material for any other purpose or as specific guidance for your company. Ontario Systems’ advice, services, tools and products described herein do not guarantee compliance with any law or industry standard. You are ultimately responsible for your own company’s actions and compliance efforts. Because everyone’s situation is different, you must consult your own attorneys, accountants, and/or other advisors to obtain specific advice on your company’s compliance, legal, tax, regulatory and/or other business needs. Despite Ontario Systems’ efforts to provide current and up-to-date information, you need to recognize that the information contained herein may become outdated quickly and may contain errors and/or other inaccuracies.
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