The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is gearing up to begin regular examinations of debt collectors, which have come under fire in recent years for character misrepresentations, harassment of consumers, and flawed paperwork. The watchdog plans to focus its audits on integrity and accuracy of data, communication with consumers, and tracking debt that has changed hands multiple times. "We're really trying to take a comprehensive view of the credit system and where the risks are to consumers," explains CFPB's Alice Hrdy. Although the exams will directly affect only about 165 large non-bank collection firms, the consensus is that the new oversight will have an industrywide impact. "The CFPB will come very strong, very soon," notes Bill Bartmann of the debt collector CFS II. "They will come with enforcement and follow it with regulations" governing unfair and deceptive practices law." In anticipation of future rulemaking, some collectors are performing internal checks ahead of CFPB intervention. "It's in a company's interest to have a strong compliance management program and fix problems before we get there," according to Hrdy.
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