AFSA Joins Supreme Court Amicus

AFSA signed on to a joint trade amicus for a debt collection case in front of the Supreme Court. The issue in the case, Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, is whether a company that regularly attempts to collect debts it purchased after the debts had fallen into default is a “debt collector” subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The joint amicus emphasizes that the FDCPA is not a catch-all regulatory regime for any party that collects debts. “Instead,” the trades wrote, “it targets only carefully defined categories of ‘debt collectors.’ As relevant here, an entity is a debt collector if it ‘regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another.’ That definition unambiguously excludes parties who collect on debt they own.”

Furthermore, the brief went on to emphasize that the FDCPA’s history and purpose to confirm what the statutory text plainly provides. “The legislative history makes clear that the Act was intended to cover independent debt collectors – third parties that collect debts owed to someone else. Members of Congress pointed to evidence that existing state and federal laws were insufficient to address complaints about independent debt collectors’ activities.” AFSA and the other trades confirmed that Congress purposefully distinguished debt collectors from banks, retailers, credit unions, and finance companies.