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DBA's New Identity Represents All Memeber Groups

  • Written by T. Steel Rose

rose steelDBA International completed its 20th annual conference in February and changed its name to RMA, Receivables Management Association. Collection Advisor caught up with Executive Director Jan Stieger to learn more about the changes taking place at RMA.

“The name change recognizes our members and our certifications,” Stieger said. “We have law firms, agencies and international members, many of whom are working with debt buyers. The members agreed on the name change.”

RMA represents 548 companies who purchase performing and nonperforming receivables on the secondary market. Its Receivables Management Certification Program and Code of Ethics is designed to set the global standard within the receivables industry due to its rigorous uniform industry standards of best practice which focus on the protection of the consumer according to its website. The association was founded in 1997 as Debt Buyers Association and is headquartered in Sacramento, California.

The challenge is optimism and hope for fair and balanced regulation for the professional, ethical collection of legitimate debt. “We have conversations with clients who may be selling debt again,” Stieger said.

Newly elected association President Mark Naiman announced the new name as part of a change in the association bylaws during the association’s annual conference. “We started as the Debt Buyers’ Association with our membership being primarily debt buyers,” Naiman said. “Our membership has now expanded and also includes collection law firms, collection agencies, creditors, vendors, and brokers. Our goal was to represent all of our member groups.”

The association took prudent steps to explore a variety of options for its new identity. The association will gradually roll out the new branding over the remainder of the year. Those wishing to contact RMA can still use the website and email addresses of DBA International.

The growing variety of membership is due in part to the association’s certification program, which is available for debt buyers, collection law firms, collection agencies and now, brokers. It was launched in 2013.

“Our certifications are for members and non-members,” Stieger said. “The RMA advocacy is managed in house with a robust volunteer group in each state to make sure precedents are not set”

The certification has been obtained by 122 debt buying companies, 11 law firms and eight collection agencies. “There are 221 individuals certified,” Stieger reported. To qualify for a two-year certification, 24 education credits must be earned. Candidates repeat the ethics and current events test in addition to a background check every two years. “An individual can then get a firm certification based on how they operate,” according to Stieger. The certified company must have a chief compliance officer (CCO) with the name of the CCO on their website as the person affected consumers have to call. They also need a CFPB portal. “We are on version five of the certification,” Stieger said.

There are 14 standards to which every company must comply. Some are self-attested but RMA tests some standards. A background check is done on the firm owners. There is a compliance audit every three years which goes to RMA at the same time as it goes to the firm. “There is self audit, full audit and a limited compliance audit based on complaints,” Stieger said. Vendors are responsible for the behavior of their clients to maintain data security. “We have the most robust data security requirements and documentation orders from CFPB consent orders,” Stieger said. “They have to have a complete chain of title, will not sue on out of statute debt and can’t sell debts which are in dispute, especially identity theft,” Stieger continued. Many rules are stronger than state or federal requirements. “The commission must not be only on dollars collected,” Stieger said.

Plans for more certifications are currently in place. “Broker certification was just rolled out, and we are working international later,” Stieger stated. “We will go further into the organizations already certified.” The 24 credits are offered by RMA. There are also credits provided by others like NARCA, ACA and ten others. A certain number of the credits can be taken live such as the 17 credits offered at the DBA International convention. Credits may be earned at an executive summit in the summer and other events when new laws come out. There are also webinars and recorded events.