Spokane, WA, September 24, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- A new federal regulatory agency is up and running, and many businesses that will be affected don’t know a thing about it.
That’s starting to change.
Shawn VanLeuven of CBS Collections, Inc., in Spokane — Shawn is a lifelong Coeur d’Alene resident and his agency serves 168 clients on the Idaho side of the state line — said he’s getting a lot of blank stares when he brings up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how it’s starting to impact creditors in all walks of business life.
“We’re just trying to keep local businesses educated on this,” VanLeuven said. “Most of them I’ve talked to aren’t even aware of it.”
“It” is how businesses in the financial sector can be held accountable under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for mistakes made by themselves or their collection agency. According to VanLeuven, consumer complaints will soon be much more visible and potentially expensive.
He explained that for years, consumers could post complaints on sites like the Better Business Bureau.
“We’re now going to see this on a federal level,” he said. “This is a new governmental entity that’s above the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) — they’re here to stay.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created two years ago, has what VanLeuven describes as an easy-to-access feature on its website where any consumer can file a dispute with a company in the financial sector, whether it’s a bank, a credit card company, a mortgage lender, a provider of commercial or school loans. As of July 10, complaints against collection agencies have been accepted.
Disputes can include companies providing inaccurate credit data, slow reporting of a customer’s payment history or many other issues. The company named in the dispute has 15 days to respond, VanLeuven said, and depending on the CFPB’s analysis of the response, fines could be levied.
CFPB hasn’t disclosed the range of fines yet, but VanLeuven says the mere posting of complaints against businesses poses a threat.
Complaints are already being filed on the agency’s website — www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase/ — and the agency notes that it doesn’t verify all the facts alleged in complaints. The bigger the audience for complaints, the broader the potential impact, VanLeuven said.
“Businesses are going to have to pay attention because there are no police online,” he said. “I’ve got one competitor with 14 negative reviews on Yellow Pages who doesn’t even know it.”
To find out more about the new federal agency and how it might impact your business, contact your credit agency or feel free to call VanLeuven at (208) 713-9623 even if you aren’t a customer.