Advocates Seek Consumer Protection from Abusive Debt Collection Tactics
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was designed to protect consumers against unscrupulous financial tactics. According to the CFPB’s website, it came into existence through the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFPB in 2010. Since its inception, the CFPB has aimed to prevent many of the harms that resulted in the financial crisis of the earlier 2000s, including the use of unfair loan agreements from banks and deceptive or fraudulent debt collection practices that target consumers.
In the last couple of years, however, consumer safety advocates have been worried about the limitations being placed on the CFPB. According to a recent article in Value Walk, consumer safety advocates from across the country are urging the new CFPB director, Kathy Kraninger, to ensure that the CFPB does its job to protect consumers in the new year.
Consumer Safety Advocates Urge Kraninger to Protect Consumers
Last week, consumer safety advocates who hail from 74 different advocacy groups at both the national and state levels sent a letter to Kraninger, urging her and the CFPB “to focus on protecting consumers from abusive debt collection practices in anticipation of a proposed debt collection rule expected in March 2019.” Specifically, the letter made clear that, even though the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has been in effect for more than 40 years, consumers continue to face harassment and other FDCPA violations at record levels.
The letter emphasized that debt collection problems are the leading cause of consumer complaints to the CFPB. Last year, the CFPB received about 84,500 consumer complaints in total. The CFPB also determined that approximately 25% of consumers who were contacted by debt collectors indicated that they “felt threatened.” In response to the continuing issue of consumer complaints about debt collection practices, the letter asks Kraninger to take steps to do the following in order to protect consumers:
- Prevent harassment, including preventing debt collectors from making more than one live call each week and limiting text and e-mail communication to situations only in which consumers give consent;
- Protect consumers’ rights to privacy;
- Limit debt collectors from actions regarding time-barred debt, whether collection attempts are made inside or outside the court system, given that any attempt to collect on time-barred debt is deceptive;
- Improve clarity of debt collection notices; and
- Improve accuracy of debt collection notices.
Levels of Consumer Harassment Remain High
According to the letter, approximately 20% of consumers who complained about harassment from debt collectors reported that they were “contacted eight or more times a week.” Further, 75% of those consumers reported that requests to debt collectors to cease contact simply did not stop the debt collectors, and they continued to receive calls.
In addition to the requests listed above, the letter also argued that the CFPB “should create a model validation notice and statement of rights that provides comprehensive, clear, and accurate information about the alleged debt and the consumer’s debt collection rights.” Then, debt collectors should be required to provide this validation notice to any consumer contacted, regardless of whether the consumer has received the notice from other debt collectors.
Contact an Oak Park Consumer Protection Lawyer
If you are being harassed by debt collectors, you should know that you have rights. An Oak Park consumer protection attorney can discuss your rights and your options with you. Contact the Emerson Law Firm for more information.
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