Commercial-Debt Collection Statutes for Hawaii:
As used in this chapter:
“Client” means a person who offered or extended credit which created a debt, or to whom a debt is owed, and who engages the professional services of a collection agency. The term does not include any person
who receives an assignment or transfer of a debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating collection
of a debt for another.
“Collection agency” means any person, whether located within or outside this State, who by oneself or through others offers to undertake or holds oneself out as being able to undertake or does undertake to collect for another person, claims or money due on accounts or other forms of indebtedness for a commission, fixed fee, or a portion of the sums so collected.
“Collection agency” includes:
(1) Any person using any name other than the person’s own in collecting the person’s own claims with the intention of conveying, or which tends to convey the impression that a third party has been employed;
(2) Any person who, in the conduct of the person’s business for a fee, regularly repossesses any merchandise or chattels for another; and
(3) Any person who regularly accepts the assignment of claims or money due on accounts or
other forms of indebtedness and brings suits upon the assigned claims or money due on accounts or other forms of indebtedness in the person’s own name; provided that any suits shall be
initiated and prosecuted by an attorney who shall have been appointed by the assignee. “Communication” means directly or indirectly conveying information regarding a debt to any person by any means.
“Debt” means any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money or other forms of payment arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or services, which are the subject of the transaction, are primarily for personal, family, or household purpose, whether or not such obligation has been reduced to judgment.
“Debtor” means any person or the person’s spouse or reciprocal beneficiary, parent (if the person is a minor), guardian, executor, or administrator obligated or allegedly obligated to pay a debt.
“Principal collector” means an individual who has been designated by a collection agency to assume
responsibility for the operations and activities of the agency’s office in this State. Hawaii Rev. Stat. Ann. § 443B-1 (West, WESTLAW through 2004 Reg. Sess.)
As used in this chapter:
“Consumer debt” means any debt of a natural person incurred primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
“Debt” means any obligation or alleged obligation of a person to pay money arising out of any transaction, whether or not the obligation has been reduced to judgment.
“Debt collector” means any person, who is not a collection agency regulated pursuant to chapter 443B, and who in the regular course of business collects or attempts to collect consumer debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due to the collector.
“Person” means an individual, partnership, joint venture, corporation, association, business, trust, or any
organized group of persons, or any combination thereof.
Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 480D-2 (West, WESTLAW through S.B. 2402, 24th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Haw.
“Collection agency” does not include licensed attorneys at law acting within the scope of their profession, licensed real estate brokers, and salespersons residing in this State when engaged in the regular practice of their profession, nor banks, trust companies, building and loan associations, savings and loan associations, financial services loan companies, credit unions, companies doing an escrow business, individuals regularly employed on a regular wage or salary in the capacity of credit persons or in other similar capacity for a single employer who is not a collection agency, nor any public officer or any person acting under an order of court. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 443B-1 (West, WESTLAW through
2004 Reg. Sess.)
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The U.S. Congress enacted the FDCPA in 1977 and added it to the Consumer Credit Protection Act in 1978. Its purpose is to eliminate abusive practices of third-party debt collectors. To that end, the Act establishes guidelines for the conduct of debt collectors, defines the rights of consumers, and prescribes penalties for violations.
The FDCPA defines “debt collectors” as “any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debt … asserted to be owed or due another.”
In other words, “debt collectors” are defined as third parties collecting for a creditor. (As of a 1986 amendment, the FDCPA definition of “debt collector” also includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.)
“Consumers” and “debt” covered under the FDCPA are defined as specifically referring to personal, family or household transactions. Therefore, debts owed by businesses or by individuals for business purposes (commercial debts) are not subject to the FDCPA.
So, if the FDCPA does not apply to commercial debt collection by third parties, how are commercial collectors regulated?
There are no U.S. federal laws, similar to the FDCPA, that regulate third-party commercial (business-to-business) debt collection or provide guidelines for the conduct of commercial debt collectors.
Who is protecting the rights of commercial creditors and debtors?
Commercial Collection Agency Association
The premier body governing the activities of commercial debt collectors is the Commercial Collection Agency Association (CCAA), an arm of the Commercial Law League of America (CLLA). These organizations are not government bodies, nor do they have any jurisdiction over non-members. However, both require high standards of practice and ethics in order for a commercial collection agency to become a certified member.
The Commercial Collection Agency Association was established in 1972 to “improve the quality and reputation of the commercial collection industry.” It currently has more than 200 members. Approximately 100 core members represent the most prestigious commercial collection agencies in the United States.
The CCAA is an arm of the Commercial Law League of America (CLLA), the oldest creditor’s rights organization in the country established in 1895.
Membership in the CCAA
Members of the CCAA are the only collection agencies in the United States certified by the Commercial Law League of America. In order to obtain certification, the agency must meet rigorous criteria.
- The agency must have been in business at least four years prior to application for membership.
- 80% of the agency’s business must be commercial (business-to-business).
- The agency must maintain a separate Trust Account into which all monies belonging to creditors are placed. This Trust Account is reviewed twice annually by the Executive Director of the CCAA.
- The agency must agree to abide by the CCAA Code of Ethics, which sets ethical standards for dealing with creditors, debtors and attorneys.
- Executives of the agency must meet continuing educational requirements and attend regular CCAA meetings. The member agency must complete sixty continuing educational credits annually.
- The agency must post a surety bond of at least $300,000 for the protection of the creditors it serves.
- One person in the agency must also be a member of the Commercial Law League of America.
- The agency must agree to random periodic site visits from the CCAA Executive Director.
- The agency must be in compliance with all local and state licensing requirements and regulations governing commercial collection firms.
Primarily, the Commercial Law League of America and its Commercial Collection Agency Association have assumed responsibility for looking after the needs and rights of creditors and their customers/debtors. State governments that require licensing and bonding of commercial debt collectors also play an important role.
However, since membership in the CCAA is not compulsory, and some firms may provide collection services in a state but never get licensed, it is up to creditors to ensure they (and their debtors) are receiving the most ethical and highest level of commercial collection service.
How? Check to see if your Agency is both a member of the Commercial Collection Agency Association and therefore certified by the Commercial Law League of America, and is licensed in the U.S. states requiring such licensing.
Burt And Associates is a member of both CCAA and CLLA. Also, we are licensed in bonded in all 50 states (where required).