Collector - July 2018 - 49
Luetkemeyer said. "What you do is
important, and I want you to know that we
are working in concert with you."
While Mulvaney followed up with similar
comments, he also tackled the elephant in
the room-the BCFP's consumer complaint
database. He admitted that the bureau does
not do "as good a job as we could verifying
the nature of complaints" that it collects
through the consumer complaint database
in reference to the accounts receivable
ACA has long held that the bureau-at a
minimum-needs to develop and implement
fair and transparent metrics to improve the
accuracy of the complaint data it makes
publicly available on the database, narrow the
definition of a "complaint" so that it covers
only alleged conduct that would be unlawful
if true, and to consistently use prominent
disclaimers that appropriately describe the
limitations of published complaint data.
Audience members reminded Mulvaney
that individuals filing complaints are
often simply angry that they legally
owe a debt and are being contacted by
an accounts receivable management
company and, when you consider the
volume of calls made by the industry, the
level of complaints is minimal. Mulvaney
agreed that was true, but also noted that
the industry needs to be responsible for
responding to complaints and Requests for
Information published by the bureau (a
task ACA has wholeheartedly engaged in).
Discussions about the complaint database
continued on Wednesday during a formal
chat between Thomas Pahl, the BCFP's
policy associate, director for research,
markets and regulations, and Rick Perr,
ACA's 2017/18 president.
Pahl nodded in agreement when
ACA members reminded him that many
of these "complaints" are inquires or
correspondences that have nothing to do
with industry professionals failing to work
within guidelines set by regulators.
"One can get a misperception just looking
at the numbers [of complaints] without
knowing what they mean," Pahl said. "There
are some significant issues when you take
ACA Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah
Dempsey passes out copies of Collector magazine to attendees.
BCFP Acting Director Mick Mulvaney praised ACA members for taking
the time to share important information with members of Congress.
the numbers from the raw data without
ACA members suggested that the BCFP
rethink or redesign the consumer complaint
database system so that complaints,
inquires or correspondences are filed under
Mulvaney devoted some of his
presentation to reading directly from
the Dodd-Frank Act, noting that he's not
required to make the consumer complaint
database publicly available. The New York
Times previously reported that Mulvaney
hinted he may end public access to the
complaint database altogether.
As acting director, Mulvaney
consistently quotes the Title X of the
Dodd-Frank Act as a means of drawing
attention to its vague language that can
be interpreted-or misinterpreted-in
many ways. Additionally, he expressed
concern about the lack of accountability
at his own agency, including the lack
of congressional oversight and not
having to receive funding through the
"Why Congress doesn't want [the
bureau] as part of appropriations is not
clear to me," Mulvaney said, noting the
bureau is the brainchild of U.S. Sen.
Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Mulvaney has consistently and publicly
noted that the bureau's structure and lack of
oversight should be reviewed and reconsidered
as it cannot continue to appropriately operate
if it doesn't have the same level of credibility
as other government agencies, such as the
Securities and Exchange Commission or the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Beyond discussions around the BCFP,
other Washington Insights Conference
highlights included presentations by Patrick
Webre, chief of the FCC Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau, and Kristina
Sesek, director of legislative affairs at the U.S.
Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
Attendees also engaged in a unique
interactive ombudsman session featuring three
representatives of the BCFP Ombudsman's
Office. This confidential session was one of the
many interesting opportunities ACA members
were provided throughout the two-day annual
event, which comprised about 140 meetings on
The Washington Insights Conference was
sponsored by Payscout Account Receivables
Management. If you were unable to attend
this year's event, consider joining us in 2019.
Watch for updates to next year's calendar!
Kim Coghill is ACA International's vice
president of communications.
Editor's Note: At press time, Mick
Mulvaney was serving as the BCFP's acting
director. President Donald Trump was
expected to nominate a permanent director
by June 22.