Many more comments were filed yesterday in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed debt collection rule, including those from consumer advocacy groups, collection agencies, creditors, and trade groups. At the very least, there is some value in organizing these to save you the time of having to dig through all of the comments.
- Credit Systems, Inc.
- Hiday & Ricke, P.A.
- Compliance Navigator
- Financial Data Systems
- Professional Credit Services
- Elite Collection Services
- Penn Credit Corp.
CONSUMER ADVOCACY GROUPS
- National Installment Lenders Association
- National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions
- Commercial Law League of America
One of the more interesting comments that has been filed so far does not fit into any of these boxes. It comes from Roseanna Sommers, who is a research scientist and a lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. In addition to her law degree, Sommers also holds a Ph.D. in psychology. In her comment, Sommers notes that “many consumers will not complain, even if they are defrauded and feel cheated,” because “they fear they will damage their credit report if they dispute the debt.”
Sommers also says that, in reference to collectors being allowed to use email and text messaging while providing consumers with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving such messages is not in the consumers’ best interests.
She also contends that the dispute language in the model validation notice is confusing and could lead to problems.
“I believe readers are likely to be confused by the disclosure stating, ‘Call or write to us by November 12, 2019 to dispute all or part of the debt,’ ” she said. “This language makes it sound as though calling and writing are equivalent. But then the model validation notice goes on to say, ‘If you write to us by November 12, 2019, we must stop data collection on any amount you dispute until we send you information that shows you owe the debt.’ I am concerned that consumers will believe that they can trigger the second set of rights simply by calling. This change from ‘Call or write’ to ‘Write’ is subtle and confusing. I believe few consumers will realize that the Bureau’s proposal allows disputes of debt to be made orally, but then provides that oral disputes will not trigger the same rights as written disputes.”
Sommers also takes issue with the testing done by the CFPB in developing the provisions of the proposed rule.
“I put little stock in any conclusions drawn from consumer testing that asked consumers whether particular parts of the notice helped their understanding,” she said. “People often have limited insight into the factors that affect their decision-making. Again, the best way to determine whether a part of a notice makes a difference to consumers is to vary its presence and measure changes in comprehension; asking people if they subjectively perceived the factor as important is insufficient.”