Regulation

Senators Urge CFPB To Reconsider Debt Collection Overhaul

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

A group of senators is urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to reconsider a recently proposed overhaul of debt collection practices that among other things let collectors send unlimited electronic communications to consumers spanning emails and texts.

As reported, a group of more than 20 senators had said in a letter to the CFPB — where the group was led by Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act would incur costs to consumers who do not have unlimited data plans.  In addition they could be harmed by scammers urging them to click on hyperlinks.

“By allowing debt collectors to send consumers unlimited text messages and emails without first receiving affirmative consent for such a method of communication, the proposed rule permits collectors to overwhelm consumers with intrusive communications,” the senators wrote. “Furthermore, since the CFPB is not requiring collectors to use free-to-end-user text messaging, the CFPB is placing the cost burden of these text messages on the consumer.”

The proposal, as reported, would also let debt collectors call debtors as many as seven times a week in regard to debt collection efforts.

“We also are concerned that the CFPB’s proposed debt collection rule effectively permits debt collectors to inundate consumers with calls,” noted the letter. “The proposed rule allows a debt collector to call a consumer seven times a week per debt. For a consumer with six medical debts, the proposed rule means that the consumer could receive up to 42 calls per week. Furthermore, creating an exemption for ‘limited content’ messages that could be overheard on a voicemail or delivered to third parties like an employer is an invasion of basic privacy that should not be endorsed by the Bureau.”

Consent Order Against Freedom Mortgage Corp.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said this past week that it had settled a consent order with a mortgage company, Freedom Mortgage Corporation, over alleged errors ties to mortgage reporting.

The bureau found that the errors were intentional in nature, and stemmed from reporting inaccurate race, ethnicity and sex information, in violation of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Freedom Mortgage Corporation was fined $1.75 million and the firm has been ordered to take steps to improve compliance efforts.   

As reported by sites such as Housingwire.com, the mortgage company had a proprietary record system in place that was known as Lakewood, where loan officers would enter applicants’ information in a way that would avoid a “hard stop”(which in turn would stop the mortgage process) by entering “non-Hispanic white” whether or not that designation was true, and when the applicants did not in fact supply such data. Separately, the mortgage company countered that no applicants were harmed by the data reporting issues.

Separately and beyond the confines of the United States, in India, Cointelegraph reports that several Indian lawmakers have proposed  a 10-year jail term for citizens who engage in mining, buying, selling and holding cryptocurrencies. As reported, the regulations are tied to a draft of a bill to be known as “Banning Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019.” The bill would mandate declaration of crypto holdings within 90 days. The bill also reportedly would propose the development of a new national cryptocurrency in India. The Reserve Bank of India said earlier this month that it denied involvement with or knowledge of a draft bill by the government.

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