In the News: Collection Agencies Push for More Ways to Harass Consumers

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In the News: Collection Agencies Push for More Ways to Harass Consumers

They want to text you, too. And email you. And leave more messages on your voicemails, including ambiguous voicemails. And provide less proof you owe the debt at all.

Where’s this coming from?

The proposal came out of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week. They say they’re just trying to keep up with changes in technology.
Debt collectors say this is all about providing “better customer service” to borrowers. But of course, debt collectors aren’t working for borrowers. They also point out the FDCPA hasn’t been updated since 1977, when the technological landscape was very different.
The Federal Trade Commission already states debt collectors nay contact you via text or email. Many are reluctant to do so because they don’t want to run afoul of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Law. The proposed rule will open more doors for debt collectors by eliminating concerns for them.

But these rule changes could create huge problems for borrowers.

The debt collection industry even opposes adopting rules which would only allow debt collectors to send texts and emails to people who opt-in to receiving communications. When other companies contact us without offering an opt-in option, we call that spam.
The industry seems indifferent or uncaring of how they’ll make some people’s financial situations even worse. Customers with cell phone plans which charge for every text, for example, could end up having to pay fees for the “privilege” of having debt collectors contact them. Others have to live with limits, and so may not be able to maintain service throughout the month. And even giving debt collectors the right to make more calls than they already do could cause a great deal of harm.
From the National Consumer Law Center:
“Over 15 million low-income households maintain essential telephone service through the subsidized federal Lifeline program. Lifeline phones typically provide 250 minutes of wireless service per month for the entire household. Excessive debt collection calls eat up the essential subsidized minutes that Lifeline households use to find work, access medical care, and communicate with childcare providers.”

What can you do?

If the debt collection industry succeeds in getting the leeway to contact you essentially anywhere and everywhere it will be essential for you to understand your rights. For example, you’ll need to know you can tell a debt collector to stop contacting you any time by sending them a certified letter informing them they may only contact you by mail.
And if you are already drowning in debt collection calls to the point where you feel stressed out all the time, then you might want to consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will put a stop to all debt collector communications. It will let you get a fresh start and get on with your life.
Indeed, if you’re in this situation you might want to consider it regardless of what the CFPB does. By the time debts are going to collections, most people are already in over their heads.

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