Compliance

How debt collection industry scored rare ‘victory’

PHILADELPHIA and WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

A debt collection expert explained the importance of the rule-making pivot the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau evidently is making when it comes to finance companies and other credit providers looking to collect from consumers who defaulted.

CFPB director Richard Cordray shared the details during his prepared remarks during last week’s consumer advisory board meeting.

Cordray told meeting attendees — which included Joann Needleman, who is the leader of consumer financial services regulatory and compliance practice group at Clark Hill — about the feedback the bureau has received since rolling out its debt collection rules overall proposal last August.

“One thing became clear,” Cordray said. “Writing rules to make sure debt collectors have the right information about their debts is best handled by considering solutions from first-party creditors and third-party collectors at the same time.

“First-party creditors like banks and other lenders create the information about the debt, and they may use it to collect the debt themselves. Or they may provide it to companies that collect the debt on their behalf or buy the debt outright,” he continued.

“Either way, those actually collecting on the debts need to have the correct and accurate information. All of these parties must work together to ensure they are collecting the right amount of debt from the right consumer,” Corday added.

Cordray went on to elaborate about how the CFPB’s initial proposal triggered other potential issues and how bureau officials are responding.

“But breaking the different aspects of the informational issues into pieces in two distinct rules was shaping up to be troublesome in various ways. So we have now decided to consolidate all the issues of ‘right consumer, right amount’ into the separate rule we will be developing for first-party creditors, which will now cover these intertwined issues for third-party collectors and debt buyers as well,” Cordray said. “That way, we can address this entire set of considerations, market-wide.

“In the meantime, we will be able to move forward more quickly with a proposed rule focused on the remaining issues,” he continued. “These issues, again, are information third-party collectors must disclose to people about the debt collection process and their rights as consumers, and ensuring that third-party collectors treat people with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“Once we proceed with a proposed rule on these issues, we will return to the subject of collecting the right amount from the right consumer, which is a key objective regardless of who is collecting the debt. And we will take care to get it right,” Cordray went on to say.

After hearing the CFPB’s latest position, Needleman collaborated with her Clark Hill colleague Jane Luxton for a blog post to explain the implications of the bureau’s actions. Needleman and Luxton declared that, “The CFPB’s decision is a win for a debt collection industry that sees few victories.”

So the industry simply doesn’t rest and savor this win for too long, Needleman and Luxton offered recommendations on what finance companies and other industry participants should do next with regard to debt collections.

“For first-party creditors, the time is now to consider issues of data integrity and effective collaboration with debt collectors they hire,” Needleman and Luxton wrote. “Creditors will now have to consider documentation issues at the front end of the initiation of the loan in order to substantiate it on the back end.

“Proactive efforts in advance of the upcoming rulemaking on a first- and third-party substantiation program should begin now,” they continued. “The CFPB appears to be moving toward the realization that we all live in a credit based eco-system and a holistic approach, involving all stakeholders in the debt collection market, is warranted.”

RISC acquires RCS to enhance vendor vetting services

TAMPA, Fla. - 

With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau taking a greater interest in what service providers finance companies are using, Recovery Industry Services Co. (RISC), a provider of collateral recovery training, certification and compliance solutions, recently announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Recovery Compliance Solutions (RCS).

The move was made in order to enhance RISC’s vendor vetting services as part of its overall compliance-related offering.

RISC president Stamatis Ferarolis highlighted that the acquisition comes at an exciting time, as RISC has recently unveiled technology integrations that can allow forwarders and financial institutions to ensure that agents meet their specific compliance standards all the way from agent selection through individual assignment and asset storage.

“RISC’s overall vision is to create a succinct experience allowing lenders to be sure that the agents they work with are thoroughly trained, comprehensively vetted, and in possession of secure and adequate storage lots,” Ferarolis said.

“Through our technological integrations, lenders and forwarders can manage assignments with all of that compliance information at their fingertips. They can even specify their own custom compliance standards and push required policies and training courses to their agents," Ferarolis continued.

"We’ve worked with the industry’s leading stakeholders, as well as bodies such as the CFPB, to architect universally accepted compliance guidelines and integrate them with our solutions," he went on to say.

RCS was founded in 2008 and has offices in St Louis.

“RISC is a perfect fit for us,” RCS officials said. “They share our vision for ensuring that the most capable, well-rounded, and compliant individuals and agencies are operating on behalf of the automotive lending community. We are thrilled to be a part of the RISC family.”

Ferarolis elaborated about what else RCS brings to RISC’s portfolio.

“The RCS team has built a very strong practice in repossession agent auditing. Their process is extremely thorough and by combining our teams we will be able to better serve our customers by delivering best-in-class compliance validation,” he said.

To contact RISC, send an email to sales@riscus.com or visit its website at www.riscus.com.

6 recommendations to CFPB regarding alternative data

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau takes a closer look at alternative data, the American Bankers Association delivered an eight-page comment letter containing a half dozen suggestions about the current and potential use of alternative data and modeling techniques in the credit process.

Along with the suggestions, ABA also raised regulatory concerns, especially when using alternative data might trigger the CFPB to take action for what the bureau could allege as unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices (UDAAP).

Authoring the material was Nessa Feddis, the association’s senior vice president and deputy chief counsel for consumer protection and payments. Feddis began by outlining a foundation of ABA’s stance regarding alternative data.

“As a general matter, banks support the use of alternative data sources to evaluate credit applicants, particularly people with no or ‘thin’ credit files who may be eligible for credit,” Feddis wrote. “The use of alternative data, coupled with mobile channels of access to bank products and services, may have potential to expand financial services and open the door to people who otherwise have limited or no access to mainstream credit.

“However, banks have concerns about the reliability and predictability of some alternative data and about consumer protections promoting privacy and data security,” she continued. "In addition, it should also be emphasized that banks recognize the importance of fair lending and demonstrating that underwriting models are sound.”

Feddis then went into six suggestions that could quell concerns about UDAAP allegations among other aspects of leveraging this technology. The recommendations included:

1. Alternative data providers should be sensitive to consumer privacy and data security and ensure that data are accurate and reliable.

2. Regulators must recognize that application of disparate impact liability in supervision and enforcement causes banks to retreat from using alternative data, limiting inclusion and competition.

3. To promote the use of alternative data in mortgage lending credit decisions, regulators should provide guidance on how banks can test and demonstrate that models comply with the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact liability, consistent with the Supreme Court’s Inclusive Communities framework, and also meet supervisory safety and soundness expectations about model validation.

4. Regulators must also recognize that the persistent threat of an undefined UDAAP sanction hovers like a dark cloud over financial innovation and will cause banks to retreat from using alternative data.

5. A supervisory approach that reduces banks’ compliance risk will encourage banks to use alternative data as a tool to develop products, especially small dollar loans, designed for people who may not qualify under traditional underwriting standards.

6. The bureau should reconsider its Project Catalyst and No Action Letter policy to promote testing of alternative data and foster innovation without the risk of triggering fair lending and UDAAP liability.

“Banks are enthusiastic, but cautious, about using alternative data and models to innovate and improve customer access to credit and product affordability,” Feddis wrote to close her letter to the CFPB.

“A number of factors impede experimentation and use of alternative data,” she continued. “Fair lending, UDAAP, and model validation challenges, risks and costs are primary obstacles. Lack of assurance about the predictability, reliability and accuracy of the data as well as privacy and data security concerns also cause banks to hesitate.

“Simply put, the compliance and reputation costs and risks can overwhelm the uncertain return,” Feddis went on to say in the letter available here.

Compliance diary post No. 3: Enjoying a successful journey

PLANO, Texas - 

It’s been a little while since I’ve made an entry into my diary about navigating through the rigors of the National Automotive Finance Association’s Consumer Credit Compliance Certification Program.

I’m happy to report I can see the certification summit. While I didn’t get here with climbing boots and a backpack, it’s been just as rewarding as any journey a hiker, biker or just a strolling walker could make.

And now the NAF Association is widening the opportunity for you to make the same satisfying and worthwhile journey.

Because the NAF Association obtained so many requests, the organization announced this week that participants in its popular Consumer Credit Compliance Certification Program now can complete the opening of the four modules online.

Previously, the only way to begin the program was to attend a two-day classroom session, which was scheduled twice per year.

I participated in the opening session the NAF Association hosted last September here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which rivals Detroit or anywhere else in the country as far as automotive penetration. As many of you are aware, large finance companies such as General Motors Financial, Santander Consumer USA, Capital One Auto Finance and Exeter Finance all call this area home.

Furthermore, each of the Uber drivers who took me to the headquarters of Digital Recognition Network (DRN) and EFG Companies on Tuesday mentioned how much the area is being impacted by the construction of Toyota’s sprawling headquarters here in Plano.

By the way, listen up for future installments of the Auto Remarketing Podcast to hear the conversations I had with top executives and DRN and EFG.

If you still want to begin the Consumer Credit Compliance Certification Program with in-person training, the NAF Association indicated classroom sessions will continue to be offered and candidates who elect to begin the program online are welcome to attend the classroom session, too, but will not be required to do so.

The in-person training is simply superb. Hudson Cook partners Patty Covington and Eric Johnson explain the regulatory material without sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher from the Peanuts cartoons.

Module 2 and Module 3 will continue to be offered online as they have since the program’s inception.

Once a participant passes the requirements of a module segment, the next portion becomes available. And participants must score 80 percent or higher on a segment exam.

(Imagine if all of the people and providers you depend on had to produce at least at an 80-percent clip or higher?)

Having to achieve that level of success absorbed numerous of my Saturdays since September.

But it’s been so worth the effort. The program not only gives you a comprehensive and digestible explanation of important federal mandates for auto financing, it also provides important foundational knowledge about state regulations that sometimes can vary as much as the color of vehicles in your inventory or portfolio.

The NAF Association indicated more than 500 compliance professionals have completed the program. By the end of the month, I hope to be a part of an increase in that tally after taking in Module 4 with Patty and Eric this week and completing one more exam.

While I might not be in the trenches of a finance company's underwriting or collections department, I like to think of all of us at Cherokee Media Group that generate Auto Remarketing, SubPrime Auto Finance News, Auto Remarketing Canada and BHPH Report, as well as the conferences at Used Car Week, as one of your service providers; a company that offers an important resource — knowledge.

And with the Consumer Credit Compliance Certification soon to be in my knowledge quiver, it’s my intention for it to reflect in the caliber of content you see from us here at Cherokee Media Group, recapping not only the moves regulators are making but also discussing how they might impact your business.

Before closing, I want to express again my sincere appreciation to Jack Tracey, Cindy Sly and the team at the NAF Association as well as Patty and Eric and the Hudson Cook stable of legal experts for allowing me to participate in the training.

Jack could have quickly brushed me aside and said, “No way!” But as always, he and everyone else involved all have been gracious.

More information about the Consumer Credit Compliance Certification Program can be found at www.nafassociation.com or by contacting Cindy Sly at cindy@nafassociation.com.

So if you or your company has been considering this program, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Not only will your firm be better for it, so will the entire auto finance industry.

Nick Zulovich is senior editor of SubPrime Auto Finance News and BHPH Report and can be reached at nzulovich@cherokeemediagroup.com.

Carleton successfully completes SOC 2 audit

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - 

Carleton, a provider of compliant financing calculation and document generation solutions, recently announced that it has successfully completed its 2016 SOC 2 compliance audit, conducted by Crowe Horwath.

The company highlighted SOC 2 compliance has quickly become a hot topic in today's world of technology and cloud computing, as service organizations such as Carleton must demonstrate its adherence to this mission-critical mandate for security and data management control.

In a data-dependent world that is routinely exposed to potential security threats, Carleton explained SOC 2 compliance is a strategic standard for technology companies to assure their integrity within the financial infrastructure.

The company pointed out that SOC 2 audits are intended to meet the needs of a broad range of information and assurances pertaining to controls within a service organization on security, availability, and processing integrity, including any systems used to process user’ data and the confidentiality and privacy of the information itself.

The principals upon which SOC 2 are based are modeled to address four basic areas:

— Policies
— Communications
— Procedures
— Monitoring.

Each of these principles have defined criteria (controls) which must be met to demonstrate adherence to the principles and produce a successful independent SOC 2 audit.

 “We recognize that SOC 2 certification on a yearly basis has become the standard by which strategic partners are measured,” Carleton president Pat Ruszkowski said in a news release.

“Over the last two years, Carleton made major investments in personnel, technology, and training to successfully complete its SOC 2 audit,” Ruszkowski continued. “It has been a top priority that Carleton met and/or exceeded the compliance requirements of our lending partners and customers.”

As Carleton updated its operational practices to meet SOC 2, Ruszkowski went on to mention the company recognized that implementing the newer standards was far more than a “connect-the-dots” exercise.

Since SOC 2 applies to nearly every SaaS company, as well as any company that uses the cloud to store its customers’ information, overall standards were expanded to include more current elements of data controls,” according to Carleton.

The SOC 2 audit included Carleton’s CarletonDocs, CarletonCalcs and CarletonAccess application infrastructures.

“Carleton’s successful SOC 2 audit validates its commitment to excellence by adhering to the mandated industry standards for delivery of secure products and services to its client partners,” the company said.

UPDATED: CFPB hits SNAAC with another $1.25M penalty

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Wednesday that Security National Automotive Acceptance Company (SNAAC) violated a consent order from 2015, demanding that the finance company make good on the redress it owes to consumers and pay an additional $1.25 million penalty.

The CFPB initially ordered SNAAC, which specializes in working with servicemembers, to pay both redress and a civil penalty for illegal debt collection tactics, including making threats to contact servicemembers’ commanding officers about debts and exaggerating the consequences of not paying. The bureau determined SNAAC violated the 2015 order by failing to provide more than $1 million in refunds and credits, affecting more than 1,000 consumers.

“This company violated a bureau order when it failed to get money back to servicemembers it had hounded with illegal debt collection tactics,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “We are making sure this company finally rights its wrongs.”

SNAAC, based in Mason, Ohio, is an auto finance company that operates in more than two dozen states and specializes in loans to servicemembers, primarily to buy used vehicles.

The company shared a statement with SubPrime Auto Finance News, stating that “the settlement resolves a disagreement between SNAAC and the CFPB over the interpretation of part of a consent order.”

The company continued, “SNAAC agreed to this settlement to close this matter and move forward in serving customers in the respectful, honorable manner that has been the company’s tradition.”

SNAAC pointed out that the CFPB acknowledges in the settlement agreement that “SNAAC has consented” to the order “without admitting” to its findings. The original consent order covered approximately 2,200 of the more than 83,000 accounts serviced by SNAAC between 2011 and 2015.

“At issue in this disagreement was the application of credits provided to a fraction of those accounts that had already benefited from a settlement balance for substantially less than was owed,” SNAAC said.

“Although SNAAC disagreed with the CFPB’s interpretation of the 2015 consent order, the company offered to pay all the disputed amounts in order to move forward,” the company continued. “The CFPB declined the offer and began an inquiry.

“SNAAC fully cooperated and responded quickly to all requests for data, reports and testimony,” the company went on to say. “SNAAC is proud of its work over the past 30 years for its customers, many of whom would not have had access to the credit they and their families need.”

Back in June 2015, the CFPB sued SNAAC for aggressive collection tactics against consumers who fell behind on their vehicle installment contracts. If servicemembers lagged behind on payments, the bureau said SNAAC’s collectors would threaten to contact — and in many cases did contact — their chain of command about their debts.

Also, the bureau said the company exaggerated the consequences of not paying. For instance, the regulator indicated SNAAC representatives told some consumers that failure to pay could result in action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, demotion, discharge, or loss of security clearance. But these consequences were extremely unlikely.

The CFPB alleged that SNAAC’s aggressive tactics, which took advantage of servicemembers’ special obligations to remain current on debts, victimized thousands of borrowers.

Then in October of that year, a CFPB consent order indicated that SNAAC engaged in “unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices” while collecting on these vehicle installment contracts. The order required SNAAC to pay $2.275 million in consumer redress through credits and refunds, and a $1 million civil penalty.

Consumers with an account balance were to receive credits to their accounts, and consumers with a zero balance were to receive cash refunds. While SNAAC submitted two plans that claimed to provide the full amount of redress ordered, the bureau insisted both were designed to underpay such redress.

Acting on a tip from a servicemember’s father, the CFPB discovered that SNAAC had issued worthless “credits” to hundreds of consumers and failed to provide proper redress to many more.

The CFPB reiterated that it is issued this new consent order against SNAAC for violating the terms of the 2015 consent order by failing to properly give refunds or credits to affected borrowers. In this latest development, the CFPB found that the company had failed to meet its obligation to pay redress to consumers by:

— Issuing worthless “credits” to settled-in-full accounts: In purporting to provide redress, the CFPB said SNAAC treated accounts that were settled-in-full as having a positive account balance. Instead of providing refunds to consumers with settled-in-full accounts, the bureau said SNAAC issued worthless account “credits.” Those consumers received no benefit from such a “credit” because they no longer owed SNAAC money and could not use such a credit toward any new or existing loan.

— Issuing worthless “credits” to discharged accounts: The CFPB indicated SNAAC also issued worthless account “credits” to consumers whose debts had been discharged in bankruptcy, and who no longer owed SNAAC money on their vehicle installment contract. The bureau asserted that SNAAC had no legal claim to any unpaid balance, and these consumers received no benefit from the “credits.” SNAAC had, in fact, already stopped collections on these accounts, according to the regulator.

— Failing to properly give redress to consumers making payments under settlement agreements:  Some SNAAC consumers were making payments under settlement agreements, the CFPB said. But the bureau noted SNAAC based redress on the original, higher account balance in place before it agreed on a settlement with the borrower. As a result, in many instances, the CFPB said SNAAC issued credits that exceeded consumers’ settlement balances, rather than refund any amount above what the consumers actually owed. And because their settlement balances were improperly credited, some consumers unwittingly overpaid SNAAC to settle their accounts, according to the bureau.

More details of enforcement action

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB is authorized to take action against institutions engaged in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, or that otherwise violate federal consumer financial laws. Under this consent order:

— SNAAC must pay redress as promised to affected consumers: SNAAC must pay the bureau roughly $720,000, which the bureau will send as refunds to about 925 consumers. SNAAC must issue about $370,000 in new credits to over 1,000 consumers with remaining account balances as well as properly credit roughly 1,000 consumers making payments under settlement agreements. SNAAC must also pay $75,000 to the bureau to cover the costs of distributing these payments.

— SNAAC must pay a $1.25 million penalty: SNAAC must pay a penalty of $1.25 million to the CFPB Civil Penalty Fund, in addition to the $1 million penalty it paid under the 2015 consent order.

The text of the consent order can be found here

White paper tackles 8 common problems during F&I cancellation process

GRAPEVINE, Texas - 

F&I Express insisted the F&I product cancellation process currently lacks standardization, automation, transparency and efficiency.

F&I Express continued by stating these challenges not only have a negative impact on the day-to-day operations of a product provider or finance company, but also impact their ability to remain compliant with state and federal regulators.

To help the industry, F&I Express recently released a white paper aimed at solving the problems created by a “broken, inefficient system” for processing F&I product cancellations and the regulatory scrutiny it has attracted.

In the white paper titled, “2017 Guide to Operational Efficiencies & Regulatory Compliance in F&I Product Cancellations,” F&I Express said it reveals a proprietary digital solution, currently being used by some of the nation’s leading finance companies and F&I providers that can completely streamline the product cancellation process.

“Lenders use the platform to process credit product (GAP/credit life) cancellations on payoffs. In certain states they are obligated by the state to issue the refunds directly to the consumer within a stated timeframe and be able to provide documentation as proof,” F&I Express president and chief executive officer Brian Reed said.

“Sending a letter to the dealer is not considered proof that the consumer gets their refund. Our platform provides a greater degree of validation and audit trail for the lenders to mitigate some of the compliance risk,” Reed continued.

Reed went on to note that if any of the situation listed below would be valuable to your organization, this white paper could be useful.

— File product cancellation requests directly with product providers.

— Obtain exact refund amounts for products to be cancelled.

— Remediate accounts previously terminated without refunds issued.

— Implement standardized processes for all cancellation reasons.

— Eliminate product cancellation paperwork.

— Obtain correct chargeback amounts from lenders.

— Eliminate phone calls back and forth between lenders and providers

— Uphold credible business relations between lenders and providers

“At the end of the day we are all consumers,” F&I Express executive vice president Rich Apicella said. “Processing cancellations in a timely manner and issuing consumers the refunds they deserve, in a timely manner, is the right thing to do.”

To download the white paper, go to this website.

Recapping crucial debt collection case before Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

Hudson Cook associate Anastasia Caton observed last week’s oral arguments during a crucial debt collection case in front of the Supreme Court that might make third-party efforts within auto finance significantly more difficult depending which way the nine justices rule.

To recap, the nation’s highest court will decide whether a company that regularly attempts to collect debts it purchased after the debts had fallen into default is a “debt collector” subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The matter involves the Supreme Court opting to hear the appeal of a debtor from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Caton previously explained that the case began when consumer Ricky Henson defaulted on a retail installment sale contract secured by a vehicle. After the original creditor repossessed and sold Henson's vehicle and applied the net proceeds to the balance, Caton noted a deficiency remained.

Eventually, the creditor sold Henson’s outstanding deficiency to Santander Consumer USA and Santander began collecting Henson’s deficiency

With that situation as the foundation for oral arguments, Caton described her overall assessment of how the proceedings unfolded in a message to SubPrime Auto Finance News.

“The proceeding seemed to focus heavily on the textual arguments — likely because counsel for the consumers used a creative argument for interpreting the FDCPA to apply to debt buyers,” Caton said.

“Counsel for the consumers argued that the definition of ‘debt collector’ — essentially, any person who regularly collects debts owed or due another — means that a company is a debt collector if it collects debts that were at one time owed to another person, or that are currently due to the company,” she continued.

“Several of the justices, including both (Samuel) Alito and (Elena) Kagan, seemed to agree that this interpretation of the definition of ‘debt collector’ involved an exercise in mental gymnastics,” Caton went on to say.

Caton asserted the textual arguments tend to support Santander’s claim that an entity that collects debt that it owns is not a “debt collector.”

She then added, “But, Justice (John) Roberts readily acknowledged that at the time the FDCPA was enacted, the debt buying industry as we know it did not exist.”

SubPrime Auto Finance News asked Caton if she could pinpoint what justice’s questions gave the most insight into how the high court is approaching this matter and how it might eventually rule. She circled back to the actions by Kagan and Alito, surmising that these two high court members seemed to agree that the consumers’ textual argument is weak.

“But no one mentioned that if there is a hole in the plain language of the statute as a result of changes in the industry, then Congress should amend the statute,” Caton said.

Caton also mentioned the focus both Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg took regarding the consumers’ policy argument. Caton explained that under Santander’s interpretation of the FDCPA, a debt collector servicing accounts on behalf of a third party could simply buy those accounts to evade application of the FDCPA. 

“(The justices) seemed to acknowledge that this is a problem that Congress could not have foreseen or intended at the time it drafted the FDCPA,” Caton said.

Caton added one more point regarding how the justices’ behavior might give an indication of how the Supreme Court might rule before its current term culminates this summer.

“The one thing that was absolutely clear from oral argument is that it will be a high hurdle for the court to overcome the plain language of the statute — notwithstanding that the majority of circuit courts to review this issue have found that debt buyers are ‘debt collectors’ subject to the FDCPA,” she said.

Depending on the result, SubPrime Auto Finance News asked Caton to project what might the ramifications be on the auto finance industry as well as the debt collection space.

Caton began by noting many of the largest debt buyers, relying on the majority of circuit courts, which have held that the FDCPA applies to debt buyers, already comply with the FDCPA. 

Further, she added the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has indicated in preliminary rulemaking materials promulgated under the FDCPA that it believes that debt buyers are subject to the FDCPA. 

“So, if the court does rule in favor of the consumers, we likely will not see a huge impact on the debt buying or third party collection industries,” she said.

If the court decides that the statute does not apply to debt buyers, Caton predicted shifts in the third-party collection market and the debt buying/selling market. 

“Many third party collectors will probably move to purchasing accounts outright,” she said. “More debt buyers will enter the market in the absence of the high compliance burden hurdles posed by the FDCPA.

“As a result, the debt sales market will likely become more competitive for auto finance companies trying to sell off old deficiency balances, but creditors might also have a harder time finding third parties to service delinquent accounts,” Caton continued.

Caton touched on another potential ramification if a decision goes in Santander’s favor. She sees an impact on state collection agency and debt collection laws that have adopted the FDCPA’s definitions, and, in the absence of definitive state regulator or case law guidance, rely on FDCPA jurisprudence. 

In fact, Caton pointed out attorneys general from 28 states and the District of Columbia joined in an amicus brief supporting the consumers’ argument that debt buyers are debt collectors. 

“Perhaps the most significant impact of a decision in Santander’s favor would be Congress revising the FDCPA to remove any doubt that it clearly applies to debt buyers. The court very well could signal to Congress in its opinion that it should do just that,” Caton said.

NAF Association pledges to maintain conference quality

PLANO, Texas - 

The National Automotive Finance Association is organizing the 21st annual Non-­Prime Auto Financing Conference with the same mandate organization leadership has held for more than two decades.

“This is the industry event where all the non-­prime auto financing company executives gather for information on the most relevant issues affecting non-prime financing, where vendors servicing the industry gather and where 21 years of networking continues,” NAF Association executive director Jack Tracey said in a message to SubPrime Auto Finance News.

“It’s exciting to see how this conference over the past 21 years has grown in prominence,” Tracey continued. “It’s where everyone comes. Non­prime auto financing leaders attend the conference because they know they’ll see the rest of the industry there.

“We strive each year to pull together a conference program that addresses issues facing non­prime auto industry and to provide education and solutions on the problems confronting the industry,” he went on to say. “Our objective is to have everyone go home with a least one good idea for improving their business.”

This year’s event, which carries the theme, “Optimizing Non­Prime Performance,” is scheduled to run from May 31 through June 2. The event again is to unfold in Plano, Texas, but at a new facility — the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park.

Some of the conference sessions includes the release of the 2017 Non-Prime Auto Financing Survey as well as a discussion about how finance companies can raise capital. Another segment has the title, “CFPB in Their Own Words.”

Among some of the notable conference speakers scheduled to appear are:

■ Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican and chairman of U.S. House Financial Services Committee

■ Tom Webb, retiring chief economist at Cox Automotive

■ Amy Martin, senior director of the structured finance ratings group at Standard & Poor’s

Complete registration details for the 21st annual Non-­Prime Auto Financing Conference can be found at www.nafassociation.com.

Space Coast Credit Union honors 6 dealers with Watchdog Award

MELBOURNE, Fla. - 

Space Coast Credit Union recently honored six local dealers with its Watchdog Dealer of the Year Award, recognizing the superior service they provided to SCCU members in 2016.

Officials highlighted the award — which has been presented annually to local dealers since 2009 — is calculated based on both SCCU member survey ratings and total loan volume generated during the year prior.

This year’s recipients include:

— Daytona Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram (Volusia and Flagler counties)

— Universal Nissan Hyundai (Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties)

— Rosner Chevrolet (Brevard County)

— Bev Smith Toyota (Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties)

— AutoNation Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (Broward County)

— AutoNation Chevrolet Doral (Miami-Dade County)

“Local dealers are our partners in the auto business, and we work together to ensure that our members are highly satisfied — both with their experience at the dealership as well as with SCCU,” said Jodie Kinley-Smith, SCCU’s indirect lending sales manager.

“We value our members’ feedback and share their voice through uncensored ratings and reviews displayed on our website to help inform and protect other members,” Kinley-Smith continued in a news release.

“This award is a way to thank and recognize those dealers who provide exceptional service to our members,” Kinley-Smith went on to say.

In addition to a plaque commemorating their achievement, each recognized dealer also receives a special vehicle sale promoted to SCCU members at no charge to the dealership.

SCCU’s indirect lending program, the main driver behind SCCU’s Watchdog Dealer of the Year award, not only can save members’ money, but also time, by enabling members to obtain their financing when purchasing a vehicle right at the dealership.

SCCU Members' Watchdog is geared to watch out for its members' financial interests in all aspects of their lives. Beyond ratings and reviews, SCCU sad it fulfills its promise by using its experience and knowledge to assist members through the auto buying decision, and providing the most competitive auto loan rates with no hidden costs.

For more information about SCCU’s indirect lending program and a full list of participating dealers, visit SCCU.com/Dealers.

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