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Helping Communities Wipe Out Medical DebtTo help relieve the burden of medical debt on their residents as part of the recovery from the COVD-19 pandemic, communities across the country are using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to support efforts to buy and forgive medical debt. These communities work with partners to purchase medical debt portfolios from hospitals, health systems, and debt collection agencies and forgive the debt. Because medical debts are often available for purchase at pennies on the dollar, these efforts can translate into massive reductions in medical debt.In the programs implemented to date, individuals qualify if they are residents of the given locality and have incomes below a certain threshold or have medical debt in excess of 5% of their annual household income. Individuals whose debt is cancelled are notified by mail and do not need to apply. Communities that have used ARP funds to forgive medical debt include:




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New Data on Medical Debt in CollectionsThe report from the CFPB documents trends in medical debt in collections that are listed on credit reports, with the data extending through the first quarter of 2022. Key findings include:


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  • About Toggle navigation Main navigation Home How Do I...? Evaluate My Situation Alternatives to Court

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  • About Search Search Related Articles & Other Resources Consumer Credit: Debts & Loans Debt Collectors and the Law Debt Collectors and the Law Topics on this page:Who are Debt Collectors?

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Debt buyers are companies or individuals who buy debt from other creditors for a very low cost. Often, the original creditor or another debt buyer sold the debt because they were unable to collect. Debt buyers purchase the debt and then try to collect the debt themselves.


You can set up a payment agreement with a creditor if you can afford to pay the debt. If you agree to a payment plan, get the agreement in writing. Keep copies of checks or money order stubs that you use to pay off the debt. It is important to keep a record showing that you made payments on or paid off the debt.


The coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency has led to the debt of many companies in private equity portfolios trading at a significant discount. As a result, an increasing number of private equity sponsors are strongly considering whether to purchase portfolio company debt in the secondary market as an investment opportunity. At the same time, the portfolio companies themselves are considering repurchasing their own debt to accomplish the twin goals of increasing equity value by retiring debt at a discounted price and reducing leverage during this volatile period in the global financial markets.


Most credit agreements entered into by portfolio companies over the past decade permit the borrower and its subsidiaries to repurchase, and affiliates of the borrower (e.g., the sponsor or a debt fund affiliated with the sponsor) to purchase, term loans of the company (the purchase of revolving loans and commitments, on the other hand, is still generally restricted and in many cases prohibited).


However, some (typically mid-market) credit agreements continue to prohibit any purchase of loans by the borrower or its affiliates (including the sponsor). In these situations, the affiliate or the borrower may be able to enter into a participation with a lender; if this option is not available, an amendment (which may require a 100% lender vote) will be required to permit a debt purchase/repurchase.


If the debt takes the form of a security such as senior notes issued under an indenture (in contrast to loans outstanding under a credit agreement), the private equity sponsor or portfolio company should consider the following:


Similarly, if the debt will be purchased by a different fund (even if by an affiliated fund), the purchasing fund will need to obtain its own contractual management rights in order to qualify the investment as a good VCOC investment.


The Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) provides licensure, regulation, and oversight of California debt collection practices under the California Consumer Financial Protection Law, 2021 (CCFPL) and the Debt Collection Licensing Act, 2022 (DCLA). Both measures help to better protect consumers and create a level playing field for industry. The DFPI began accepting applications for licensure September 1, 2021. You can reach the licensing team by emailing DCLA.Inquiries@dfpi.ca.gov . We can answer questions regarding the licensing process but cannot provide legal advice. Applications must be submitted via the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS). A checklist of requirements for the application is available on NMLS. Once licensed, debt collectors will not need to register under the California Consumer Financial Protection Law. The Department will allow any debt collector that submitted an application before January 1, 2023, to operate pending the approval or denial of the application.


There are exemptions for depository institutions such as FDIC-insured banks, credit unions, DFPI-licensed finance lenders and brokers, DFPI-licensed mortgage lenders and servicers, Department of Real Estate licensed agents, persons subject to the Karnette Rental-Purchase Act, a trustee for a nonjudicial foreclosure, and debt collections regulated under the Student Loan Servicing Act.


You may apply for a single license that includes all your affiliates engaged in the business of debt collection and pay a single application fee of $350. However, each affiliate will still need to pay the investigation fee of $150 and complete a New Company application (Form MU1).


Per legislation, all debt collectors needed to apply for a license prior to January 1, 2023, to continue to operate in California. That means we will have a large volume of applications to review. The licensing team is diligently working to review them as quickly as possible; however, the process is anticipated to take place through 2023. Do not be concerned if we do not contact you regarding your application for an extended period of time.


The Commissioner may issue a desist and refrain order to keep a company or individual from engaging in the business as a debt collector without a license or from violating the DCLA or the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act or Civ. Code 1788.50 et seq. The Commissioner may also order the person or licensee to pay ancillary relief, including but not limited to refunds, restitution, disgorgement, and payment of damages on behalf of a person injured by the conduct or practices constituting the violation.


Under the CCFPL, it is unlawful for a covered person or service provider, which includes debt collectors and debt buyers, to engage in any unlawful, unfair, deceptive, or abusive act or practice with respect to consumer financial products or services, offer or provide to a consumer any financial product or service not in conformity with any consumer financial law or otherwise commit any act or omission in violation of a consumer financial law, or fail or refuse, as required by a consumer financial law or any rule or order issued by the Department, to do any of the following: (A) permit the Department access to or copying of records; (B) establish or maintain records; or (C) make reports or provide information to the Department.


On January 10, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a complaint in federal district court against three affiliated debt-buying businesses and the individuals who founded and operated them for "knowingly and recklessly [placing debts with and selling them to] debt collection agencies that used threats and misrepresentations to coerce payments from consumers."


The corporate defendants are in the business of purchasing portfolios of defaulted consumer debt and then placing those portfolios with (or selling them to) third-party debt collectors. The CFPB alleges that the third-party debt collectors engaged in illegal debt collection practices, such as falsely threatening consumers with lawsuits and arrest, and that the defendants who placed the debt with (or in some cases sold it to) the debt collectors are directly liable for violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.


Of note is the CFPB's use of its substantial assistance authority here to attempt to hold the defendants liable for the actions of downstream third parties. The CFPB points to the fact that the three companies received hundreds of complaints about the deceptive collection practices either directly from the consumers or through the consumers' creditors and failed to take meaningful action to correct them. According to the CFPB, the companies claimed to have separated themselves from some of the debt collectors, but internal documents reviewed by the CFPB showed that the companies continued to place debt portfolios with and sell them to debt collectors that they claimed were terminated. 041b061a72


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