SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Several dozen national consumer and privacy groups have a word of warning to folks out there with an unpaid debt. You might hear from a debt collector more, possibly every day..
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering new rules consumer advocates are already complaining that the changes go too far
“Consumers who find themselves in financial trouble do not need to be harassed by debt collectors,” said Jack Gillis, the executive director of Consumer Federation of America. “This particular change from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is certainly not going to protect consumers.”
It has been an argument we’ve heard before, i.e. debt collectors legitimately trying to collect a debt but then there are complaints that they just call constantly. In the past, rules were established about how often they could contact a consumer but now that may be changing
“This change would enable debt collectors to actually impact consumers to a far greater degree than they do today,” says Gillis.
Gillis says collecting a debt is one thing but even someone in financial trouble still has rights to privacy.
“You could get five or six calls or text messages a day and it would be perfectly legal,” he told us.
The CFPB says it’s revamping rules to allow companies to use new forms of communication such as email, text and social media.
Consumer Federation of America says the proposed rules would allow a debt collector to make seven calls to a consumer within seven days and an unlimited number of emails or text messages. The emails and texts can be sent without a person’s permission.
The group says if you have several debts you could be receiving a dozen or more calls per week plus the emails and texts.
“This is not good for the American consumer especially the beleaguered consumer who is in a bit of financial trouble,” said Gillis.
In total, 36 groups are objecting to the proposed rules and indicate that in addition to calls, emails and texts – that debt collectors may also post messages to consumers on media platforms and send direct messages to them through those platforms. They says there’s no guarantee that information will stay private on those social media platforms.
Gillis says after the financial meltdown in 2008 and the resulting recession, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was born out of the Dodd-Frank financial bill. The agency was designed to serve consumers. But Gillis believes is focus has shifted under the Trump Administration
“The Consumer’ Financial Protection Bureau is becoming the ‘Corporate’ Financial Protection Bureau,” said Gillis “This was an agency that helped saved consumers millions of dollars, that was created to protect consumers from big financial institutions. Never before have we needed protection and it seems to slowly be slipping through our fingers.”