Former FTC Bureau Chief Blasts Provisions of CFPB’s Proposed Rule

A former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, who is now a law professor and a board member of the National Consumer Law Center, has come out and blasted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed debt collection rule, accusing the bureau of violating “email 101” and saying that sending a validation notice via a text message of email is a “terrible idea.”

David Vladeck shared his thoughts and opinions in a column that was published by WIRED magazine this past weekend.

Clicking on links from unfamiliar senders — which are debt collectors in Vladeck’s scenario — in text message or emails has been verboten for decades to avoid being scammed into installing malware or becoming a phishing attack victim. Under the proposed debt collection rule, though, “the CFPB has proposed a rule that could require consumers to click on hyperlinks in unfamiliar emails,” Vladeck writes.

…the CFPB’s proposal would permit debt collectors, in some cases, to email or text a validation notice through a hyperlink that a consumer would have to click on to see without first getting consent. That is a terrible idea. Consumers are unlikely to recognize the debt collector’s name or feel comfortable clicking on a hyperlink when an unfamiliar email or text arrives. That’s true even if the creditor had already sent the consumer a fine-print notice with the debt collector’s name and the right to opt out of hyperlinks, as the CFPB proposes.

But that’s not the “worst” of the proposed rule, Vladeck writes, saving his harshest comments for a lack of “set limits” on how many text messages and emails collectors can send.

The CFPB would allow collectors to ring you repeatedly, protect collection attorneys who make false statements in court submissions, permit privacy violations, and encourage collectors to pursue debts after the deadline for a lawsuit, even though the FTC has long taken the position that doing so often deceives consumers and can violate the law.

Vladeck closes his column by urging consumers to file comments opposing the provisions of the proposed rule before the Sept. 18 deadline.

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