A handful of more comments have been filed and published regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and consumers are expanding their lead over the credit and collection industry, in terms of which side has filed the most comments.
For those of you keeping score at home, nine of the first 12 comments that have been filed have come from consumers who are upset with some or all of the provisions in the proposed rule. Two of the 12 have been filed by participants in the credit and collection industry and one comment was filed anonymously, but supported the CFPB’s efforts.
The rhetoric and language being used by consumers indicates the strength with which they oppose what the CFPB is trying to do.
From someone who claims to have received more than 100 calls in the past year from collectors looking for people other than the commenter: “Allowing debt collectors to send text will mean I will have my data allowance used up by inappropriate users sending requests to the wrong person. I suffer the consequences for people not doing their homework and feel that I should be compensated and made whole by those companies abusing the system … I would like to see a financial penalty placed on the debt collectors that do not due their due diligence and call hoping that they have found the person they are looking for … Allowing texts and using up my data allowance is totally unacceptable since they are not doing validation and verification. I pay my bills on time and I am tired and fed up with the aggravation I have received in the last 12 months having to deal with people that are hoping to find a person. We need to protect the public from harassment by people not doing their job in verifying who they are calling.”
Another commenter, thinking that writing lowercase was not enough to convey his or her point, wrote: “This is a VERY unfair rule … CFPB needs to do what they were formed to do:PROTECT the public instead it seems CFPB now has turned around and is protecting the banks and collectors.”
The other new anti-rule comment claims that the rule will “authorize” collectors to institute “denial of service” attacks on debtors’ phones and computers. “They could very easily implement an automated service to send me an unlimited amount of traffic that will consume my device resources trying to deliver them to the point that I can no longer use the device for it’s intended purposes including my ability to answer their communications. If a debtor’s cell phone has a limit on bandwidth they may incur excess bandwidth charges or slowing of their internet services because of the volume of texts/emails which would again effectively reduce or eliminate their ability to respond to the creditor.” This consumer obviously does not realize that the anti-harassment provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act would get collectors in a lot of legal hot water should they send “unlimited” amounts of traffic to a debtor’s phone.
That is part of the problem with the comments. The nuances and compliance idiosyncrasies in debt collection are tough for an outsider to understand. The mainstream media has been steadily pumping out stories about the proposed rule allowing collectors to send “unlimited” text messages and emails to consumers and those in the industry know that’s just not true. But consumers are going to believe it. And that is the narrative that will define how this rule moves forward.
The other new comment was a less-than-full-throated endorsement of the proposed rule: “I think that the rules are middle of the road when it comes to limiting calls and providing collection agencies with clarification on emailing and texting,” wrote an anonymous commenter. “I think the proposed rules are a good start and hope the bureau is able to take feedback and make some additional clarifications which will help both collection agencies and consumers.”
Comments are being accepted until August 19. You can file your comment here.