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Closing the Cracks and the Courts:A Comparative Analysis of Debt Collection Regulation

By: Tasia S. Harris

Consumers who borrow from a lender today cannot count on deal- ing with that same lender later if they default on their debt. In today’s world of debt collection, the lender will outsource collection to a third-party debt collector, or those consumers’ defaulted debt will be bought and sold numerous times for pennies on the dollar until eventually a debt buyer decides to pursue payment. Either way, under the current US debt collection laws and regulations, both third-party debt collectors and debt buyers can act outside the scope of debt collection regulation in the United States, and many will take that opportunity to engage in abusive debt collection practices, including abusing the courts as an enforcement mechanism.

Through a comparative analysis of the central statutes and regulations governing debt collectors in the United States and the United Kingdom, this Note finds that the accountability gap for debt collectors in the United States stems from the US statute’s narrow scope and sparse restrictions on judicial action by debt collectors. In order to close this accountability gap, the United States should adopt the United Kingdom’s broad definition of “debt collector” and a version of the UK Debt Respite Scheme which allows consumers to delay judicial action by debt collectors.


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