To avoid unintended consequences of new regulations, industry participants routinely submit comments to regulatory bodies. Heeding some of these warnings, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) recently incorporated the Consumer Relations Consortium’s (CRC) suggestions regarding its proposed complaints and inquiries regulation.
In 2022, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) proposed regulations to establish a consumer complaint-filing processes and a procedure for complaint investigation, response, reporting, and tracking. The CRC submitted a comment to the proposal, authored by members of its 2022 Legal Advisory Board, Joann Needleman of Clark Hill, Brit Suttel of Barron and Newburger, and Leslie Bender of Eversehds Sutherland.
In its comment, the CRC suggested that the DFPI make the following changes:
- Require any third party to provide verification as a prerequisite to filing a complaint or inquiry. (Note that the original proposal explicitly stated the definition of “complainant” and “inquirer" included a consumer's representative.)
- Provide clarification to the definition of “complaint.”
- Exempt Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) disputes from the definition of a complaint.
- Allow covered entities to seek proof of authority to act on a consumer’s behalf.
- Automate and standardize the process for reporting complaints and inquiries to the DFPI; and
The CRC’s full comment (found here) explained why the DFPI should consider the CRC's suggestions and asked the DFPI to consider the resources which would be required for it to review quarterly reports.
The DFPI's newest version of the regulation, released in December 2022, appears to adopt all of the CRC's suggestions. The proposed rule now reflects:
- Significant updates and clarifications to the definitions of “complaint” and “inquiry.”
- FCRA disputes are specifically exempted from the definition of “complaint.”
- A representative is no longer included in the definition of a “complainant” or “inquirer.”
- An acknowledgment that covered persons can request validation from representatives, agents, etc.
- Reports from covered entities to the DFPI should be submitted annually instead of the originally proposed quarterly;
- Further report filing instructions will be provided via the DFPI's website.
Regarding the DFPI's updates, co-author of the CRC's comment, 2023 Legal Advisory Board member Joann Needleman of Clark Hill, stated, “The CRC’s Legal Advisory Board appreciates the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation’s consideration of our comments. The successful resolution of debts can only exist with a robust and well thought-out dispute process that enables both sides to communicate and respond successfully. Many thanks to Leslie Bender and Brit Suttell for their assistance, contribution, and leadership.”
Find the CRC’s comment here.
Find the updated proposed regulation here.
About the Consumer Relations Consortium
The Consumer Relations Consortium(CRC) is an organization comprised of more than 60 national companies representing the diverse ecosystem of debt collection including creditors, data/technology providers and compliance-oriented debt collectors that are larger market participants. Established in 2013, CRC is evolving the debt collection paradigm by engaging stakeholders—including consumer advocates, Federal and State regulators, academic and industry thought leaders, creditors and debt collectors—and challenging them to move beyond talking points and focus on fashioning real-world solutions that actually improve the consumer experience. CRC’s collaborative and candid approach is unique in the market. CRC is managed by The iA Institute.