How to Bake Compliance into Collections Litigation

Walker White

December 10, 2020

The new rulings from CFPB will curtail some of the most widely used—and often abused—practices in collections.  Keeping up with federal, state, local and, venue-specific laws, rules, and procedures is a huge cost and risk to manage, and implementing the Final Rule will be no different.  Creditors and law firms need full-time staff to monitor the laws, rules, and procedures across the nation.  Since the formation of the CFPB, the amount of quality control checks and audit requirements has grown exponentially.  In the past, there were only two solutions; hire more people or lower your volume.  In the face of the expected growth of debt over the next few years, neither course of action is ideal.

Want to learn how to best prepare for the new FDCPA rule?  Watch our on-demand webinar with Diana Banks, Vice President with American Bankers Association and, Walker White, CEO of Oliver Technology.

The Opportunity:  Automation with Built-in Compliance

The technology exists today to automate much of the compliance process to ensure adherence across the collections litigation channel.  Here are three key categories of automation that allow creditors to maintain rigorous compliance.

    1. Codify Compliance

Think of how TurboTax™ transformed the way the average person does their taxes and remains compliant with the IRS; that’s codifying.  The first step is to codify all the federal, state, local, and venue specific laws and regulations.  Next, place this code onto a platform that is used by all parties across the collections litigation channel to ensure that everyone is maintaining compliance throughout the process.

Creditors and law firms have extensible procedures and business rules that need to be incorporated into the platform.  These are specific procedures that help those companies meet reputational goals or internal controls.

A key value to codifying compliance is providing granular visibility and agility. When an account cannot automatically flow through the process, they need to be escalated and handled on an exception basis.  Now 90% of inventory can be automated and only 10% need exception-based management.

  1. Simplify Audit

The CFPB measures compliance through audits, yet this can be a very manual, time-consuming, and subjective process.  Additionally, many creditors have strict internal controls that need to be managed and measured.  By building compliance into the collections litigation platform, all collections activity can be audited easily.  The platform documents every step of the process including measuring meaningful attorney involvement.

Clear reporting of handoffs, reviews, approvals, and SLAs are critical to the accuracy of the audit.  Finally, giving creditors end-to-end visibility and control over the process is critical to ensure that all the compliance and internal controls are met.

  1. Customization

Litigation is a combination of science and art, meaning that there can be multiple ways to manage an account and remain compliant.  Many debt collectors have developed unique standard operating procedures (SOPs) that need to be incorporated into the compliance framework.  Creditors have multiple law firms in each state where they litigate and each of their firms can navigate the compliance framework with their unique SOP.  By integrating these SOPs into the platform, all the parties can continue to process inventory according to their SOP and still maintain the overall consistency of approach that creditors and regulators require.

Finally, technology today enables us to quickly adapt to changing market and regulatory conditions.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example.  From a legal and reputational perspective, creditors needed to suddenly stop the litigation process, reassess the level of the hardship of their accounts, modify their process of collection with courtesy communication or forbearance offerings, and then quickly restart the process when the courts reopened.   If they had a collections litigation platform in place with built-in compliance, SLAs, and SOPs, they would have been able to automatically send courtesy communication, and continue to work on accounts and place them in processing queues.  Upon reprioritization based on their ability to pay and preparing them for litigation, accounts would be ready to be put into the system as soon as the courts reopened.

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