Collector - January 2018 - 45
of the public during the meetings, which are
held two to three times per year.
"Our dialogue with our CAB members
helps improve the ways that consumer
financial markets work for American
consumers," said former CFPB Director
Richard Cordray at the November meeting.
"The CAB is a diverse group that identifies
key issues cropping up around the country
and presents broader perspectives on issues
that sharpen our approach to consumer
November's meeting provided Samet
the opportunity to help lead a discussion
on current trends. He chose to focus on
technology in the debt collection industry,
bringing his expertise and perspective to
"We are in a pivotal time for the debt
collection industry; consumers prefer to
engage with technology over picking up the
phone," Samet said. "It was a very helpful
discussion. It was just very clear that they
were taking it seriously and listening and
it is an incredible ongoing opportunity to
provide feedback for the bureau."
TrueAccord's approach to communicating
with consumers relies more on digital
options, such as emails and text messages,
because consumers prefer those channels,
according to Samet.
"Our goal was to completely disrupt the
traditional collections model and replace
phone calls with an online conversation
with consumers. In our case, more than
90 percent of accounts are being resolved
online using machine learning and
behavioral analytics to create personalized
consumer journeys," Samet told Collector
magazine in May last year.
Samet based his company's approach
to consumer communication on his own
personal experience with a debt collector.
"I realized that the industry is ripe for
technology innovation and needs to change,"
he said. "Combining technology with
meaningful societal change turns this into a
passion project for me."
Overall, Samet said CAB members
responded positively to the issues he raised
Estimated annual operating cost of
the Consumer Advisory Board.
about the use of technology in the debt
"We're not the only company in the
collection space that sends emails," he said.
"We are just one of a few that uses technology
to communicate with consumers. We have data
that consumers want this-it's a strong case."
Bringing up issues like this to the CFPB
was one reason Samet wanted to be a part
of the board.
"Being able to bring user behavior, data
science and innovation into the CFPB's
way of thinking is first and foremost why I
wanted to be involved," Samet said. "Two, I
think it's a unique opportunity. I believe in
public service. I think we need to use the
opportunity to influence policy in a way that
makes it better for other people."
Samet noted that the CAB does not
make policies or policy decisions, but
its members can serve as voices for the
industries its work impacts.
"The best we can do is ... to bring
highly analytical and defensible positions
on how to promote consumer protection
while pushing our industries forward and
introducing innovation and that's what I
intend to do," he said.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE
CONSUMER ADVISORY BOARD?
The CAB has previously received updates
for discussion of the CFPB's proposed
rulemaking for the debt collection
industry. Samet said he didn't know if the
topic is slated for future board meeting
agendas, but explained the rulemaking
is another opportunity for industry
professionals to interact with the CFPB
during those processes.
At ACA International's 2017 Fall Forum
& Expo in November, the CFPB's John
McNamara, assistant director of consumer
lending, reporting and collections markets,
confirmed that the debt collection
rulemaking remains a high priority for the
bureau. At the time, McNamara said he
was hopeful a proposed rule for third-party
debt collection could be released by the end
of 2017, but he acknowledged that novel
rulemakings take time and that the CFPB is
being "highly deliberative and careful."
In June 2017, Cordray announced that
the bureau will consolidate "intertwined"
substantiation issues in a separate first-party
creditors' rule while moving forward on a
rule for third-party debt collectors.
"We think the outline of proposals from
the bureau is an incredible steppingstone in
protecting consumers and that we just need
to make sure the rule is written in a way
that enables us and does not unnecessarily
burden new innovation in this space," Samet
said. "[We also need to make sure] that we
don't hold back the use of email and social
media in a responsible and consumer-centric
way because there is data to show that
this improves consumer protections and
responds to their preferences."
Being a part of the board is also an
opportunity to change the perception of
the debt collection industry developed
based on fraudulent collections by bad
actors, Samet said.
The CAB will likely hold its next meeting
in the summer.
"It's too early to talk about what we can
accomplish [in the long term,]" Samet said.
"The bureau staff seems to take the CAB
very, very seriously. I'm hopeful about
Katy Zillmer is ACA International's