The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to update the rules on exactly how often debt collectors can harass people who owe money. However, one part of the proposed rule change would let collection agencies send an unlimited number of text messages to people who are behind on their payments.
The proposed rules, which could go into effect next year, would ban debt collectors from contacting debtors more than seven times a week. Or to translate that to human: They can call you once a day, but not more than once a day. If you do happen to answer a call, collectors then have to wait seven days before reaching out again.
That’s not even the worst part. The CFPB proposal also allows collectors to contact debtors through email and text messages. According to a senior CFPB official who spoke to Bloomberg, there is no limit to the number of times they can email or text you, but they have to give you the choice to unsubscribe or opt out. The proposed rules also say debt collectors can contact you through your social media accounts once a day, so long as it is not “viewable by a person other than the consumer,” which means that Sallie Mae is going to be trying to slide into your DMs. Well, that’s one way to get some of us to finally give up social media.
Because these rules are supposedly designed to protect consumers, collections agencies have to include an unsubscribe from electronic communications, and debtors have the right to ask collectors not to use certain phone numbers or accounts to reach them. Additionally, collection agencies would also be banned from contacting debtors through their work emails.
One silver lining is that under the updated rules, debt collectors couldn’t contact credit agencies about debts without notifying debtors, which apparently they frequently do, and the rules also set a statute of limitations for lawsuits or legal threats from collectors over certain debts.
The CFPB is asking for comment from the public. Never forget that many of these debts stem from student loans and medical debt, aka the kinds of debt that don’t happen in many other countries.