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On Friday, October 30, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a modified final version of its debt collection rule. In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the CFPB had moved to allow debt collectors to call a consumer seven times a week per week per debt, and to send text messages, emails and social media direct messages without consumer consent. The bureau also suggested offering lawyers a “safe harbor” who make false allegations against consumers.
The final rule lets debt collectors call a consumer seven times a week per week per debt, as well as to send text messages, emails, and social media direct messages without consumer consent. The rule creates a “limited-content message” category; collectors can also leave voicemails, which could be heard by someone other than the consumer it concerns, but the voicemails are now forbidden from containing the consumer’s name. The final rule did not include a “safe harbor” for attorneys, and requires all electronic communications from a debt collector to have an “opt out” option. The CFPB delayed until December a final rule on collection of time-barred zombie debt.
The following statement can be attributed to Consumer Program Associate Lucy Baker:
“US PIRG is pleased that the CFPB has struck some of the most harmful provisions from the final debt collection rule it released on Friday. We are, however, still frustrated that the rule allows for high volumes of calls, texts and emails, both to debt-holding consumers and also to other consumers that the debt collector mistakenly contacts,” said Lucy Baker, Consumer Program Associate with U.S. PIRG. “We’re happy that the CFPB didn’t follow through with some of the worst parts of the rule. But the rule still allows for more consumer harassment than consumer protection, especially during a pandemic that has left some consumers jobless and many others with very little money to feed their families and pay their rent.”
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