Commercial-Debt Collection Statutes for INDIANA:
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) The term “person” means any individual, firm, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation. (b) The term “collection agency” means and includes all persons engaging directly or indirectly and as a primary or secondary object, business, or pursuit, in soliciting claims for collection, or in the collection of claims owed or due or asserted to be owed or due to another, including child support arrearages under IC 12-17-2. The term “collection agency” also means and includes, but shall not be limited to, any person who sells, furnishes, or maintains a letter or written demand service, including stickers or coupon books, designed for the purpose of making demand on any debtor on behalf of any creditor for the
payment of any claim wherein the person furnishing or maintaining such letter or written demand service, including stickers or coupon books, shall sell such services for a stated amount or for a percentage of money collected whether paid to the creditor or to the collection agency, or where such services may be rendered as a part of a membership in such collection agency regardless of whether or not a separate fee
or percentage is charged. The term “collection agency” shall also include, but not be limited to, any individual, firm, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation who uses a fictitious name, or any name other than the individual’s or entity’s name, in the collection of accounts receivable with the intention of conveying to the debtor that a third person has been employed.
(c) The term “claim” means any obligation for the payment of money or its equivalent and any sum or sums owed or due or asserted to be owed or due to another, for which any person may be employed to demand payment and to collect or enforce payment thereof. The term “claim” also includes obligations for the payment of money in the form of conditional sales agreements, notwithstanding that the personal property sold thereunder, for which payment is claimed, may be or is repossessed in lieu of payment. Ind. Code Ann. § 25-11-1-1 (West, WESTLAW through the 2005 First 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).