Consumer Groups Claim Bipartisan Concern over CFPB’s Debt Collection Proposal

Sep 11, 2019 | Federal Regulation, News

The Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) and the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), two consumer advocacy groups, claim that a new poll shows bipartisan concern over certain elements of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed rule to modify the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). 

According to their poll, a majority of Democrats and Republicans oppose certain provisions of the proposed rule. For example, roughly three in four Americans are concerned with the following: 

  • Allowing debt collectors to leave general messages for people in places that are not private, such as at the workplace;
  • Allowing debt collectors to contact people by private direct messaging on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook; and 
  • Allowing debt collectors to call people as many as seven times a week for each debt they are collecting.

To be fair, the proposed rule authorizes debt collectors to use electronic forms of communication to reach consumers, but they would also be required to inform consumers how to opt-out of those communications, similar to how marketing emails must include an “unsubscribe option.”

In addition, the poll shows that most Americans oppose allowing debt collectors to call consumers seven times a week for each debt they are collecting. The poll does not mention that the proposed rule prohibits debt collectors from calling a consumer for seven days once they successfully reach the consumer. Currently, debt collectors can call consumers as many times as they would like, as long as courts do not deem it harassment, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. The CFPB’s proposed rule provides clearer lines as to what is or is not harassment and limits the number of times debt collectors can call consumers. 

To the authors of the poll, the results mean that the CFPB should rethink its debt collection proposal. “It should not surprise any of us that Americans don’t support government-sanctioned harassment by debt collectors via phone, email, or text,” said AFR Senior Policy Counsel Linda Jun. “And yet that’s exactly what [the CFPB, led by Director Kathy Kraninger,] is proposing. The agency needs to withdraw this plan and come up with one that actually protects consumers.”

The CFPB is currently seeking comments on its proposed rule. Those interested have until September 18 to submit comments, which they can do here.

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