H. Robert Ronick, Esq.
Dear Mr. Ronick:
This responds to your letter dated March 5, 1991, in which you asked whether your client, which you describe as a "multistate professional collection agency," would violate federal law by selling a list of consumers (through a separate company to be created for the project) who had accounts placed for collection with the agency. You state that the list would include names, addresses, and telephone numbers, and that it would be used by its purchaser to market secured credit cards or other products.
Section 806 (3) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a debt collector from engaging in the "publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts" with exceptions not applicable to your proposal. The Federal Trade Commission Staff Commentary on the FDCPA states that this provision prohibits debt collectors from exchanging lists of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts. See 53 Fed. Reg. 50097, 50105 (12/13/88), comment 2 to section 806 (3-4).
In our opinion, a debt collector's sale of a list of the names of its accounts clearly constitutes "publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts" and thus violates Section 806 (3) of the FDCPA.
This letter constitutes informal staff opinion, which is not binding on the Commission. It does, however, represent the Commission staff's current enforcement position.