A fairly popular mainstream media blog is urging consumers to file comments over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed debt collection rule, specifically recommending that the comments indicate that consumers don’t want to receive text messages from debt collectors. And, coincidentally enough, a number of new comments were published yesterday that did exactly that.
“Tell the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau That Debt Collectors Shouldn’t Text You” blares the headline, leaving no ambiguity in the intention of what is to follow. What is interesting about the article, though, is that it provides absolutely no reasons why collectors should not be allowed to send text messages to consumers and it provides absolutely no reasons why consumers should be up in arms about the potential to receive text messages from collectors.
In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed new rules for debt collectors. This update to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, which hasn’t been updated since its development in 1977, would limit how often a debt collector can call you each week and provide greater clarity for itemized bills. But it would also allow debt collectors to text and email you.
Nothing wrong with that so far…
The CFPB is extending its open comment period, after seven consumer advocacy groups submitted a letter to request an extension. so if you haven’t yet told the CFPB that you’d rather debt collectors not slide into your DMs, you have more time. The new deadline is September 18, 2019.
And then, it says, if you don’t want to receive text messages, here is how to comment. And many people took the advice.
From Nazim Karaca:
There’s plenty of ways that debt collectors can reach me without making my pocket buzz with an urgent message. Text messages can erode a debtor’s way to pay off a debt by costing them: text message rates apply, and employers often don’t like their employees texting, so they might fire or demote the debtor because of the text message. This only makes paying off the debt less likely.
From Rob Stewart:
Debt Collectors should not be able to text consumers.
Even individuals who say they are working in the ARM industry expressed their feelings that text messages may not be a good idea. From Shawn Alexander:
I have working in collections since 1984 as a collector and for the last 19 years as an attorney. Text messages are annoying, but vital means of personal communication in my opinion. Collection efforts should only be through verifiable pathways that are formal so both the collectors and the debtors can be sure the medium of communication is appropriate to the message and the goals. I do not think a text has the same import as a letter or phone call from a party who has identified themselves legally. Also the potential for 3rd party disclosure is also increased with each new pathway of communication. Text messages are prone to abuse because of the small amount of information transmitted which may necessitate repeated messages, leading to abuse.