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Proposed rules would expand debt collection efforts

Many people who are struggling with debt know the awful feeling of being contacted by debt collection agencies. The letters that come in the mail can be intimidating and the phone calls can be even worse.

Now the Trump administration wants to give debt collectors more ways and more opportunities to contact debtors. Under new rules proposed by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, debt collection agents would be barred from calling debtors more than seven times per week, but would be able to send unlimited numbers of text messages and emails. They would also be able to contact debtors through social media and private messages.

Proponents of the rules say the changes are necessary because the current rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977 are outdated in a time when many people don't have land-line telephones and do much of their communication online. They say that the limit on the number of phone calls would be a great benefit to borrowers, and note that the digital messages would include an opt-out feature so that debtors could stop the messages.

Consumer advocates argue that the new rules will not protect debtors from harassment. They point out that the limit of seven phone calls per week is not as a generous as it fist seems. Many consumers have multiple debts, so under the rule they could potentially receive calls from multiple collection agents every day. They also say the proposed rules don't require the agents to investigate whether they are demanding the right amount of money, or even that they're contacting the right person.

One advantage of filing for personal bankruptcy is that it puts an immediate stop to harassment from creditors. As soon as a person files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court issues a stay, which requires creditors to conduct their collection efforts through the bankruptcy court process, and not by bothering the individual.

People who are struggling with debt need help getting their finances under control. They don't need the added stress of collection agents harassing them. A debt relief attorney can advise consumers of their rights and legal options.

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Kenneth C. Rannick, P.C.
4416 Brainerd Road
Chattanooga, TN 37411

Phone: 423-624-4002
Toll Free: 800-257-7594
Fax: 423-624-0509
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