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Debt Collection by Text Messaging and Direct Social Media Messages?

David Humphreys Aug. 5, 2019

Its Headed to Us Under the New Debt Collection Rule Proposed by The CFPB

Abusive debt collection practices run rampant nationwide. Oklahoma consumers have filed more than 5000 complaints about debt collection practices with state and federal regulators since 2008. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should be doing what it can to protect us from debt collectors' bullying, but instead its new “debt collection rule” would protect the bullies and expand their harassment arsenal by allowing text messages, emails, and direct messages on social media.

Forty percent of people have debts in collection at any given time. Many other families are a paycheck, an unexpected vehicle breakdown, or one emergency room visit away from an account going into the hands of a debt collector. Medical debt is especially susceptible to debt collection.  Given these facts it is highly likely you or someone close to you is or will someday be subject to the demands of a debt collector, whether you owe the money or not.

Under this proposed “new rule” those subjected to debt collection will be more vulnerable than ever to the collections industry's worst practices. Debt collectors know that incessant contacts by phone, and soon by text and social media, ramp up the pressure on families to pay, whether the debt is owed or not. These aggressive and often demeaning collection practices tear at the fabric of marriages and families, leading to increased marital strife and even domestic violence. Ultimately, our children, families and our entire community suffers.

Consumers are sick of debt collectors calling day in and day out. Under this “new rule,” that won't stop. Collectors will become more aggressive once they are allowed to expand their harassment via text message, email, and social media.

That's not the worst. The proposed “new rule” is full of gaps, loopholes, and new opportunities to abuse consumers. In its eight years of existence, the CFPB has come out with strong rules and taken decisive action to protect consumers. Not today. Surely, it can do better than this weak proposal. The CFPB must ensure that debt collectors can do their jobs without oppressing and abusing consumers.

As a state, we also need to step up and enact our own stringent protections against debt collection abuse.