AFSA Attends CFPB Town Hall on Proposed Debt Collection Rule

Call limits were the most discussed issue at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) May 9 Town Hall on debt collection in Philadelphia. Also discussed were; whether consumers should be able to opt-in to communications from debt collectors, communicating with consumers via text and email, the content of a voice mail message from a debt collector, debt validation notices, and whether the CFPB should permit the collection of time-barred debt.

The subject of the Town Hall was the CFPB’s newly released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on debt collection. AFSA staff attended the event, which featured remarks by CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, a panel discussion with industry representatives and consumer advocates, and an opportunity for members of the public to comment.

On the panel were: Stephanie Eidelman (CEO, the iA Institute & Executive Director, Consumer Relations Consortium), Mark Neeb (CEO, ACA International), Jan Steiger (Executive Director, RMA International), Michael Froehlich (Managing Attorney, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia), April Kuehnhoff (Staff Attorney, National Consumer Law Center), and Patricia Hassen (President & Executive Director, Clarifi).

While all the panelists said that more time was needed to examine the several-hundred-page rule, certain issues were immediately apparent. Froehlich, Kuehnhoff, and Hassen all said that the call caps were too low and that consumers with multiple debts could still get as many as a hundred calls a week from debt collectors. Neeb emphasized that a one-sizes-fits all approach could end up harming consumers. While industry representatives lauded the inclusion of rules governing voice mails, emails, and texts, the consumer advocates expressed privacy concerns.

AFSA intends on submitted comments explaining that, while focused on debt collectors, the NPRM could also affect creditors.