On May 7, 2019, a new rule was proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would allow debt collectors to contact consumers through, text, email, and private messages on social media.
What We Know:
- This new rule is proposed as an update to the Fair Debt Collection Practice’s Act (1977). The update would limit debt collectors to seven calls per week. Despite this, it would allow them to send an unlimited amount of texts, emails, or private messages through social media sites like Twitter. Debt collectors argue that they need these new channels of communication because it is easy for people, like millennial and younger people, to ignore phone calls.
- There have been few changes to the Fair Debt Collection Practice’s Act since its inception. David Monterio, a partner at Morgan Lewis law firm, stated “Each of the topics that the proposed rule addresses are issues that have been ambiguous under the statute for the last 40 or 41 years, and its helpful to everyone to have those ambiguities resolved.”
- The proposed rule would also give consumers an opt-out option. This would allow them to tell a debt collector what emails or numbers they don’t want to be contacted at.
- Margot Saunders, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, stated, ” We are horrified that the CFPB’s proposed rule will actually authorize harassment of consumers through phone calls, emails, and texts.”
- Even with the changes, the Fair Debt Collection Practice’s Act will still prevent debt collectors from harassing consumers. In a statement to the CBS MoneyWatch, the CFPB stated that, “debt collectors would face liability if the consequences of the communications is harassment, oppression or abuse of any person.”
- Mark Neeb, the CEO of the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, admits that there are still details of the rule that need to be clarified and improved before it is finalized.
Once the rule is published in the Federal Register, consumers will have ninety days to submit comments to the CFPB regarding the rule.