Collector - July 2018 - 17
hen you imagine a bold explorer, you might think of
someone going to a faraway land, discovering new flora
and fauna and encountering fascinating new cultures.
Surprisingly, certain aspects of debt collection can also be likened
to an expedition to a strange and unfamiliar land, particularly when
you expand your collection business to a new state.
Adventurous agency owners thinking about embarking on
such a journey should rigorously research the laws of the states in
which they intend to begin collecting. You will want to consider
issues such as licensing, trust accounts, location requirements,
employee requirements and debt collection laws particular to the
state. With this knowledge, you can determine whether or not it
would be a good business move to collect in a certain state while
limiting possible liability.
First, consider state licensing requirements. Not all states have
licensing requirements, and some states may not have a statewide
licensing requirement but do require a license at the municipal
or city level.
For instance, New York state does not have a license requirement,
but three of its cities (Buffalo, New York City and Yonkers) currently
do. That's why it's imperative to make a thorough determination
whether the new collection location will trigger any licensing
You'll want to review state law and investigate any city regulations
or ordinances. If the laws are silent as to the necessity of a license,
then you should still determine if your company needs a certificate
of authority to do business in that state. A state's Secretary of State
website often provides guidance on forms and requirements for
certificates of authority.
Even if a state does not have a general debt collection license
requirement, it may still have a license requirement for a servicing or
collecting on a specific type of loan or other debt.
For example, California does not require debt collectors to be
licensed. However, entities that service student loans made to
California residents must obtain a license from the Commissioner of
Business Oversight. The definition of "servicing" includes receiving
any scheduled periodic payments from a borrower or any notification
that a borrower made a scheduled periodic payment and applying
payments to the borrower's account. The type of debt that an agency
services or collects can determine whether or not a license is needed.
Some states have licensing exemptions, often with certain
conditions. For example, agencies that do not have any physical
presence or agents in the state and only use letters and phone
calls to collect debts are frequently exempt from state license
requirements. Some states caveat their exemptions with the
requirement that only debt collectors whose home states provide
similar exemptions can qualify. When making a determination