FCC looking to limit debt collection calls


Apparently the folks at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aren’t big fans of debt collection robocalls, either.

Last year, as part of the new budget that was passed, agencies collecting debt on behalf of the Federal government were granted permission to use autodialers in an effort to contact delinquent consumers. Previously, debt collection agencies were not allowed to use automated calls if the calls were going to a consumer’s cell phone. This new budget, however, created an exemption for collection attempts on government debt (primarily Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages and federally-backed student loans).

In response, the FCC has drafted a proposal that would limit such attempts to three calls per month. The proposal, if passed, would also give consumers the ability to opt-out of all future collection calls.

(Of course, it’s important to note that even if you did decide to exercise your right to opt-out of collection calls, you could still be subject to future ramifications, including an attempt by the creditor to have your wages garnished in pursuit of the unpaid debt.)

Dealing with debt collection

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee the proposal will pass. As noted in The Hill, the proposal already faces heavy opposition from various federal agencies that advocate for more intensive collection efforts. If approved, however, it would go into effect sometime late this summer.

In the meanwhile, if you have old, delinquent debts, here are a few tips to help you deal with the debt collection process.

Initiate contact first | If you fall behind on a debt, reach out to your creditor first to discuss the situation. They may not be able to help you, but there’s a chance they may, so it’s worth a phone call to see what’s possible.

Make requests in writing | If you want a debt collector to cease contacting you, you should send them a letter requesting that they cease their attempts to collect the debt. At that point, they should only contact you to advise that they received your request, or to let you know of any status changes to your debt.

File a complaint | Some debt collectors, unfortunately, have been known to use underhanded tactics to get consumers to make a payment. If a debt collector harasses or threatens you, or if they misrepresent the status or amount of the debt, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Keep in mind, if they’re doing it to you, they’re probably doing it to everyone, so you’re doing us all a favor when you file a complaint against an unscrupulous collection agency.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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