The Consumer Bureau's Reckless Plan for Debt Collection

WIRED | 8/23/2019 | David Vladeck
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We learn in email 101 that hyperlinks from unfamiliar senders are breeding grounds for scams. Microsoft has warned against clicking on foreign links for decades. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has repeatedly cautioned Americans to be wary of malware and phishing expeditions. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) alerted consumers to a new cyber threat it dubbed “smishing”—targeting consumers with deceptive text, or SMS, messages—and urged consumers to “never click links, reply to text messages or call numbers you don't recognize.”

David Vladeck was the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection from 2009 to 2012 and is currently the A.B. Chettle, Jr., Chair in Civil Procedure at Georgetown Law School. He sits on the Board of Directors of the National Consumer Law Center.

Consumer - Financial - Protection - Bureau - Lessons

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau apparently skipped these lessons. Despite many warnings, the CFPB has proposed a rule that could require consumers to click on hyperlinks in unfamiliar emails. The proposal allows debt collectors to deliver important information about a debt and a consumer’s rights via links in text messages and emails—without first obtaining consent to electronic communications, as is normally required under federal law.

Debt collectors are required to send a “validation notice” that tells a consumer when a debt has been placed in collection and that the consumer has the right to get information to be able to verify or dispute it. When Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in 1977, it considered the validation notice critical to minimizing mistaken identity and errors on the amount or existence of a debt.

Risk - Collectors - Person - Amount - Today

The risk of collectors going after the wrong person or wrong amount is much greater today. Since 1977, a new industry has bloomed: debt buying. As director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, I initiated a 2013 study that found...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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