Consumer comments on the Day One of the 90-day comment window for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to debt collection outnumbered collection industry comments by a ratio of three to one, and the consumers definitely appear to be unhappy with what has been proposed. Comments can be reviewed and submitted here.
Eight comments were submitted on the first day that comments were eligible to be filed, six by consumers seeking more protection, and two by the industry, seeking additional clarification.
“This proposed rule does nothing to protect the interests of consumers.The rule change addresses debt collector harassment by ‘limiting’ the amount of contact to 7 calls a week (per debt) and UNLIMITED texts and emails from debt collectors to debtors,” emailed Stephen Whipple. “There should be a limit on texts and emails and one call a week, with time limitations. It also claims to protect consumers from collection attempts on zombie debts when in reality it only prohibits threatening of lawsuits on expired debts, saying nothing of continued collection attempts. As soon as the consumer makes one payment, they are clearly allowed to bring suit. It also allows for critical notices (defaults, lawsuits, late payments, etc.) to be provided via email or text only without the consent of the consumer. This creates new, digital avenues for ‘sewer service’ that will undoubtedly result in surprise garnishments.”
Other consumers expressed similar negative sentiments toward collectors.
“If all debt collectors are given these proposed rules, we have to believe from past experience that they will push the limits,” emailed Joby Lewis. “If they push the limits of text message policies, they will overwhelm the debtor with texts. They already ignore pleas to them to stop calling because they have a wrong number. Why would they stop texting? They are the MOST unscrupulous, so why give them more leeway!?!?!”
Of the two collectors who filed comments, one — who admitted he has not fully read the 538-page NPRM yet — sought clarification on having to provide an itemization of the debt, because some medical debts can extend for multiple pages and be cumbersome. The commenter also sought protections from what he described as vultures — plaintiff’s attorneys — regarding “having to continually wonder if we are in compliance” when attempting to contact individuals.
The other industry comment an amendment to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act related to collecting subrogated debts.