Protect Consumers from Abusive Debt Collectors

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Pauline Hanson was homeless and living out of her car when a debt collector started calling her nearly every day in August 2018. After being laid off her job, Ms. Hanson moved to take care of her sick father and she became homeless shortly after his death. Social Security was her only source of income. Ms. Hanson explained this to the debt collectors when they called. The collector did not stop calling, even when she asked them to, which she has a right to do under the law. On some days, she received as many as five calls from the collector.

Debt collection is rampant with abuses where collectors deceive, threaten, harass and berate vulnerable people for debt that they may not even owe, is for the wrong amount, is too old to be legally sued on. In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed a rule that could have reined in abusive debt collection, but it falls short.

The CFPB’s recently proposed rule on debt collector practices will expose millions of consumers to even more harm if it goes into effect. It would give collectors a license to harass us. We are calling on the CFPB to:

  • Stop debt collectors’ telephone harassment and stalking of consumers. Three call attempts and one conversation per week are enough.
  • Bar debt collectors from texting or emailing without consumers’ express permission.
  • Protect consumers’ privacy. Do not allow collectors to leave private messages with others, including friends, families, and neighbors.
  • Stop the collection of old, zombie debt. Collectors should not attempt to collect debt that is so old that there are no reliable records of the debt.
  • Not give a free pass to collectors and debt collection attorneys when they violate the law. They must be held fully accountable for harassment, deception, and fraud.