I hope everyone is having an amazing summer! Can you believe July 4th has passed us already? Since we are now into July, I suspect that back to school ads and sales are coming soon. I need to let you know about a proposed rule that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released regarding debt collection.

Under the rule, even if you don’t owe any money to any collection agency, the CFPB is proposing that the collection agencies can contact friends and family to leave limited contact messages. Yup. One of the proposed rule changes will allow the collectors to contact you if anyone you know owes a collection account. This not only violates the privacy of the person with a debt in collections, but how about your privacy and peace?

The proposed rule has other issues, but that one is going to affect people who do not owe any debt. Here are some rule provisions for people who do have a debt in collection.
The Proposed Rule would allow debt collectors to:

1. Call seven times per week, per debt, and allow one contact per week, per debt. Have five student loans? 35 calls allowed. Three medical debts? 21 more calls. And on and on.

2. Allow unlimited text messages and emails to consumers.

3. Allow legally required notices to be embedded in emails as links, which consumers have been warned NOT to “click” because of the virus and malware dangers.

4. Require the consumer “opt Out” of electronic communications, with no clear procedure to do so, may be required by snail mail. We have to wait and see.

5. Allow collectors to “DM” consumer social media accounts.

6. Allow the collector to violate privacy by leaving “limited contact messages” with friends, family, and neighbors.

7. Not prohibit debt collectors from “tricking” consumers into restarting the statute of limitations on time-barred debts by making any small payment.

8. Has other impacts that may not directly affect local consumers, but may, for example, by allowing collection attorneys to violate the FDCPA with “safe harbor” protections against liability.

As someone who had an account in collection in the past, I personally find this intrusive and stressful. You want to DM my social media accounts? My SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS? And there doesn’t appear to be a limit- so Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all a few times a day? Seems like that’s okay under this rule. Sure, they cannot post anything to your page, but “accidents” happen, right? You want to text me however many times a day you want to? What if I am at work? Do I want to open my phone at lunch to a blast of ten texts? Really? Where would it end?

The good news, however, is that we can submit a comment to the CFPB regarding this rule, how it would affect us, and perhaps how we don’t want debt collectors to call us personally if a friend or family member is having a financial issue. If we all submit comments, respectfully and with a discussion of the impact on us, the CFPB must take these comments under advisement before the final rule goes into effect. Here are the links for the rule text (it’s over 500 pages!), the page to submit your comment, and the original release of the rule into the Federal Register. I’m a nerd, and I like to provide sources for everyone. And if you have insomnia, the proposed rule will knock you out in no time.

To submit your written comment:
regulations.gov/comment?D=CFPB-2019-0022-0001

More Information about this Proposed Rule can be found using the following links:
Open Notices Debt Collection Practices Regulation F
Federal Register Publication”

Please submit a comment and help me spread the word to others who may not be aware of this proposed rule. We all have the opportunity to make a public comment before August 19th. After that time, the “public comment period” is scheduled to close. We have over a month to get after this. We can positively influence this rule if we all raise our voices to the CFPB.

Enjoy your vacations and the rest of your summer!

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