Commercial-Debt Collection Statutes for Maine:
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following
meanings. 3. Consumer. “Consumer” means any natural person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay any debt.
4. Creditor. “Creditor” means any person who offers or extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt
is owed, but that term does not include any person to the extent that he receives an assignment or transfer
of a debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating collection of that debt for another.
5. Debt. “Debt” means any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a
transaction in which the money, property, insurance or services that are the subject of the transaction are
primarily for personal, family or household purposes, whether or not the obligation has been reduced to
judgment. “Debt” includes any obligation or alleged obligation for payment of child support owed to, or
owed by, a resident of this State.
6. Debt collector. “Debt collector” means any person conducting business in this State, the principal
purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly
or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another. “Debt collector” includes persons
who furnish collection systems carrying a name that simulates the name of a debt collector and who
supply forms or form letters to be used by the creditor even though the forms direct the debtor to make
payments directly to the creditor. Notwithstanding the exclusion provided by section 11003, subsection
7, “debt collector” includes any creditor who, in the process of collecting the creditor’s own debts, uses
any name other than the creditor’s that would indicate that a 3rd person is collecting or attempting to
collect these debts. For purposes of subchapter II, “debt collector” includes any attorney-at-law whose
principal activities include collecting debts as an attorney on behalf of and in the name of clients. “Debt
collector” also includes any person regularly engaged in the enforcement of security interests securing
debts. “Debt collector” does not include any person who retrieves collateral when a consumer has
voluntarily surrendered possession. A person is regularly engaged in the enforcement of security
interests if that person enforced security interests more than 5 times in the previous calendar year. If a
person does not meet these numerical standards for the previous calendar year, the numerical standards
must be applied to the current calendar year.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 32, § 11002 (5)-(6) (West, WESTLAW through the 2005 First Reg. Sess. of the
122nd Leg. and with emergency legislation through the 2005 First Spec. Sess. of the 122nd Leg.).
The term debt collector does not include:
1. Officers or employees of a creditor. Any officer or employee of a creditor while, in the name of the
creditor, collecting debts for that creditor;
2. Persons related by common ownership or affiliated by corporate control. Any person while acting as a
debt collector for another person, both of whom are related by common ownership or affiliated by
corporate control, if the person acting as a debt collector does so only for persons to whom it is so related
or affiliated and if the principal business of that person is not the collection of debts;
3. Officers or employees of the United States or any state. Any officer or employee of the United States
or any state or agencies or instrumentalities of the State to the extent that collecting or attempting to
collect any debt is in the performance of his official duties;
4. Persons serving legal process. Any person while serving or attempting to serve legal process on any
other person in connection with the judicial enforcement of any debt;
5. Nonprofit organizations performing consumer credit counseling. Any nonprofit organization which, at
the request of consumers, performs bona fide consumer credit counseling and assists consumers in the
liquidation of their debts by receiving payments from those consumers and distributing those amounts to
6. Repealed. Laws 1993, c. 126, § 2.
7. Persons collecting debts owed or due to another. Any person collecting or attempting to collect any
debt owed or due, or asserted to be owed or due, to another to the extent that the activity:
A. Is incidental to a bona fide fiduciary obligation or a bona fide escrow arrangement;
B. Concerns a debt which was originated by that person;
C. Concerns a debt which was not in default at the time it was obtained by that person; or
D. Concerns a debt obtained by that person as a secured party in a commercial credit transaction
involving the creditor;
8. Collection activities related to the operation of a business. Any person whose collection activities are
confined to and directly related to the operation of a business other than that of a debt collector, such as,
but not limited to, financial institutions regulated under Title 9-B;
9. A private entity operating a worthless check enforcement program that meets the conditions set forth
in section 11013-A, subsection 3.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 32 § 11003 (West, WESTLAW through emergency Leg. Through Ch. 86 of the
2009 1st Reg. Sess. of of the 124th Leg.).
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).