Collector - April 2018 - 50
A Closer Look at Record Retention
State law may dictate how long collection documents and records must be maintained.
he business of debt collection
generates a lot of documentation.
While these documents may be used
to track the history of accounts, payments
and communications, files in both paper
and electronic form become cumbersome to
manage as they accumulate over the years.
When is it safe for a debt collector to purge
While federal law or regulation may
dictate how long certain documentation
must be maintained, many states
have established document retention
requirements for debt collection agencies
that specify the method and timeframe that
certain collection records should be kept.
Retention requirements are not uniform
across the states, and typically range from
two to six years. For example, West Virginia
requires licensees to maintain accounting
records of collections and payments for six
years from the date of last entry, whereas
Washington requires licensees to maintain
accounting records of collections and
payments for four years from the date of
last entry. Tennessee sets forth a shorter
retention period and requires licensees to
retain individual records of collections for a
period of three years.
States often require retention of
documents beyond just accounting and
payment records. For instance, Colorado
requires collection agencies to maintain
summaries or records of all communications
with a consumer and other individuals
regarding an alleged debt (such as a
consumer's attorney, consumer reporting
agency, employer or people contacted for
skiptracing purposes) for two years from the
date of the communication.
Similarly, Illinois requires collection
agencies keep correspondence files
including copies of all correspondence
between the agency and creditor; copies of
correspondence between the agency and
consumer or other individuals (including
agency's attorney); and consumer payment
instructions. Such files must be kept for one
year after closing an account.
New York City requires debt collection
agencies to maintain recordings of conversations
with all consumers (or alternatively, a
randomly selected sample of at least 5 percent
of all calls) for a one-year period.
Because state requirements vary, collectors
will need to know and comply with the
document retention requirements for the
state in which they collect. To assist in
determining compliance obligations, ACA
International members should review
the ACA SearchPoint™ document #2037,
State Record Maintenance Requirements,
which showcases state retention laws in a
convenient and searchable format.
Have you checked out the member-only ACA
SearchPoint™ library? This valuable resource
is filled with documents that put important
compliance information related to the
FDCPA, FCRA, TCPA, state laws and many
other topics at your fingertips. To access it,
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