Petition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
CFPB’s proposed debt collection rule weakens the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by undermining its goals of stopping harassment, protecting consumer privacy, and preventing collection against the wrong person or in the wrong amount. We urge you to adopt a rule that would:
- *Stop harassment of consumers by limiting debt collectors to one conversation and three attempts per week per consumer, not per debt.
- *Bar debt collectors from texting, e-mailing, or direct messaging consumers without their consent, allow opt-out via any communication channel used by the collector, and require full compliance with the E-Sign Act before collectors can send key notices electronically.
- *Require collection attorneys to review original account-level documentation of alleged indebtedness and make independent determinations that they are filing a lawsuit against the right person, for the right amount, and that their client has the legal authority to do so.
- *Ban collection of time-barred debt in and out of court because these debts are so old that records are lost, the collector may have the wrong person or wrong amount, and the debt cannot be collected without mistakes or deception.
- *Require debt validation notices to be provided by mail unless the consumer opts in to electronic delivery; improve the model notice; require collectors to include a statement of rights; and improve language access.
- *Not exempt any forms of communication from the FDCPA and require collectors to respect privacy in all communications.
When I got sick six years ago and was unemployed because of my illness, I was afraid to answer the phone or open my mail because of debt collectors trying to collect on medical debt I couldn’t pay. That’s why I was upset when I heard about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed debt collection rule.1
The new rule would let debt collectors call you 7 times per week, per debt -- meaning if you have 8 medical debts, as many people do, you could receive 56 calls a week. And not just you -- debt collectors can call your friends and family as well.2
Trump’s plan also allows debt collectors to contact you by text, email, or direct message without your consent, meaning many people would have to pay a text message fee every time a debt collector contacts them.
There’s still time to stop this -- the CFPB is taking public comments on this rule now.
Tell the CFPB to strengthen the new debt collection rule to protect consumers from debt collector harassment.
If, like me, you’ve been unlucky enough to deal with a debt collector, you’ll have seen first-hand the abusive practices of the debt collection industry. Debt collectors lie, threaten, and harass people for debt they may not even owe or for the wrong amount.
Instead of reining in this industry, the new CFPB rule is better for debt collectors than consumers like us.
If the CFPB rule is enacted, debt collectors could:
- Call you 7 times per week, per debt (meaning consumers with 8 medical debts could receive 56 calls a week!)
- Contact you by text, email or direct message without your consent and puts the burden on you to opt out of such communications you never gave permission to accept. This puts consumers at risk of missing important information, receiving information in an inaccessible format (not having easy access to computer or internet), imposing burdensome costs (paying per text message), and making them vulnerable to hackers (the rule allows for important notices to be sent by hyperlink).
- Sue you without their attorneys reviewing original account documents to make sure you are the right person and the debt is the right amount
- Collect “zombie debt” that is so old that the deadline for a lawsuit has passed and there are no reliable records of who owes the debt and for how much.3
The CFPB was proposed by Elizabeth Warren under the Obama administration with the goal of helping working families deal with predatory lenders and debt collectors in the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. But under Trump, the CFPB is letting lenders and debt collectors get away with anything.
Tell the CFPB to strengthen the new debt collection rule so the rule protects consumers instead of debt collectors’ right to harass us.
1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Proposes Regulations to Implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act," May 7th, 2019.
2. National Consumer Law Center, "CFPB Debt Collection Rule Must Protect Consumers, Not Abusive Collectors," May 2019.