The most important legislation that provides them with guidance is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the CFPB.
Current Number of Debtors and Their Burdens
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, “about 30 million people face debt collection for unpaid bills that average about $1,400.” As many debtors know, abusive debt collection practices can prove very physically and psychologically damaging. That’s one of the reasons why 2013 was the first year in which America's “largest debt collection companies began undergoing federal regulatory exams . . . to ensure [that] they were complying with consumer protection laws.” The CFPB is also conducting inquiries to determine exactly how new technologies are being used to harass debtors. Texting and the use of social media are only two of the newer means being used to harass some debtors. The CFPB is very eager to hear about every type of concern debtors currently have so it can properly determine exactly how it should update the FDCPA in light of these new technologies.
Everyone Suffers When Debt Collectors Turn Abusive
Every member of society pays a price when debtors are so seriously harassed that they lose their jobs or their good health. Unfortunately, debt collection often brings out people’s greediest traits and they have little interest in treating others with proper respect.
In fact, even debtors who actually owe nothing will sometimes pay money “to end the harassment.” According to Richard Cordray, the CFPB director, “Consumers can be harassed over a debt that is not theirs or that they do not recognize because the information is wrong. Credit reports can be marred by misinformation.”
Unfortunately, those with common names -- like Smith, Jones, Brown, Rodriguez or Gutierrez – often obtain copies of their credit reports and discover numerous errors. Some of these mistakes may indicate that they’ve worked for employers they’ve never heard or list former home addresses in cities they’ve never even visited.
How Debt Collecting May Change in the Future
Some individual states are currently passing (or reviewing) new legislation to add further “teeth” to the current FDCPA. For example, in Massachusetts, debt collectors are no longer allowed to contact debtors more than twice a week – regardless of whether calls, texts or voicemail messages are being used. Hopefully, other states will quickly pass similar (or even more stringent) legislation.
The CFPB remains dedicated to making sure American consumers are treated respectfully as they try to handle their finances and debt issues. Richard Cordray, the director of the CFPB, is determined to make sure that the debt collection industry starts meeting much higher standards in 2014.
If you believe that you’re a victim of any abusive debt collection practices, contact the Law Offices of Georgia consumer protection attorney Shane Smith so that you can learn more about your rights under federal and state consumer protection statutes. Call (770) 487-8999 today to schedule your free initial consultation.