Estate Debt Coalition Responds to CFPB’s NPRM on Debt Collection Practices with Focus on Decedent Debt

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Estate Debt Coalition (“EDC”), a coalition of three of the largest specialized debt collection agencies that focus on estate debt – AscensionPoint Recovery Services, LLC., Estate Information Services, LLC, and Phillips & Cohen Associates, Ltd. – was pleased to respond to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for debt collection practices. 

“As the industry’s only coalition of estate account specialists, we appreciate the efforts the Bureau has made to meet with us to understand the unique nature of our industry and the ways our specialized procedures have evolved over the years,” said Jonathan Grossman, Spokesperson for EDC. 

“Our members take very seriously the delicate nature of their responsibilities, and we applaud CFPB’s efforts to learn more about the processes and procedures involved in resolving the debts of estates,” Grossman continued. “Our goal is to ensure that the rules promulgated take into account the unique factual circumstances surrounding estate debt in order to protect consumers, while also not creating unintended barriers to fair and efficient estate resolution.”

“Most importantly, the CFPB has agreed with the guidance published by the Federal Trade Commission, which became the industry standard in 2011, and concluded that the FDCPA permits estate debt collectors to communicate with individuals acting in the capacity of estate administrators or executors, even if those people have not been formally appointed to those positions.”

EDC’s other comments are as follows:

  • With respect to location communications, the final rule should adopt the 2011 FTC guidance in which estate specialists could ask for the person “who has the authority to pay the outstanding bills of the decedent out of the assets of the decedent’s estate.”  For eight years, this language has facilitated the accurate and efficient identification of the individual with the responsibility of resolving the estate. 
  • The CFPB should require affirmative disclosure that the individual handling the estate is not personally liable for the debt of the estate.
  • A cooling off period after the death of 21-28 days during which collectors cannot contact consumers is reasonable, so long as it does not apply when the personal representative of the estate affirmatively contacts the collector.
  • Consistent with its position expressed throughout the NPRM, the CFPB should add to the list of individuals included in the definition of “consumer” in § 1006.6 the “Personal Representative of the consumer’s estate, which includes any person who is authorized to act on behalf of the deceased consumer’s estate.”
  • The final rule should include a model validation notice for estate collections.

You can view and download a copy of EDC’s full comment letter, here

About the Estate Debt Coalition 

The Estate Debt Coalition is comprised of three of the largest debt collection agencies that specialize in decedent debt: AscensionPoint, Recovery Services, LLC; Estate Information Services, LLC; and Phillips & Cohen Associates, Ltd. The coalition works to ensure that federal, state, and local laws, rules and regulations are applied to the unique area of estate debt collection in a manner that simultaneously protects the rights of consumers and allows for the efficient resolution of estates. As the leaders in this unique industry, our members strive to ensure that best practices are advanced industry-wide.