The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) offers consumers many protections. The Act outlines when and how often debt collectors can contact consumers about their debt, prohibits them from using unfair or deceptive practices when collecting debt, and more. However, even with all of these protections, Congress is currently considering a number of proposed changes to the Act. These proposals are just that for now. They are proposed changes that have not yet become law. Unfortunately for consumers, it is unlikely that these changes are ever going to take effect.
So, what are these changes, and why should customers wait before they become too excited about them? The answers to these questions are outlined below.
Limiting the Rights of Debt Collectors to Email Consumers
The first proposed change to the FDCPA would make it illegal for debt collectors to contact consumers through email or text, unless the consumer provides explicit approval that they can be contacted this way. Currently, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits debt collectors from texting consumers about their debt. However, this Act does not address the issue of emailing consumers.
This proposed change also makes it illegal for debt collectors to send an unlimited number of texts and emails. The proposed change would make this a violation of consumers’ rights even if a customer gave the debt collector permission to contact them through email.
Provide Protection for Business Loans
Currently, the FDCPA only provides protections for consumers. Businesses have little to no protection if they incur significant debt and debt collectors start contacting them. One of the proposed changes to the Act stipulates that business owners should receive the same protections as consumers. However, most small businesses are run by people the Act was intended to protect. These business owners often have to take out small business loans to help with the expenses of their business and often, even expenses they face in their personal life. If approved, this change would make sure that everyone was protected from the unethical strategies of business owners.
Additional Protections for Members of the Military
Currently, debt collectors are not allowed to threaten the rank of anyone in the military or threaten to interfere with a service member’s security clearance. The proposed amendments to the law do not change this, but they do provide additional protections for members of the military that are exposed to this type of behavior.
Extending Protections to Non-Judicial States
Florida is a judicial foreclosure state. This means that lenders must file a lawsuit against the borrower when they want to foreclose on their home. Under the foreclosure law, borrowers have many protections. Unfortunately, in states that have a non-judicial foreclosure process, such as California, borrowers do not have as many protections. One of the proposed amendments to the Act would change that. It would extend the protections to consumers in every state so that everyone in the country could be protected.
Extending the Act to Include Debt Buyers
Debt collectors are not the only ones who contact consumers and sometimes engage in unlawful behavior; debt buyers do, as well. Debt buyers are companies that purchase a bundle of debts from credit card companies and other lenders. They do this so that they can then start collecting on the debt, and make money.
Unfortunately, some courts have determined that debt buyers fit into an exception under the FDCPA. This essentially means that they can attempt to collect the debt and use whatever measures they seem fit to do it. When they do, consumers cannot file a lawsuit against those debt buyers in many courts. Until now, individual courts have been granted the discretion to determine whether debt buyers can be sued under the Act. If the proposed amendments are passed, debt collectors and debt buyers alike would have to follow the provisions outlined in the Act.
Challenges the Proposed Changes Face
While the proposed changes would provide many more protections to consumers, they are not yet law. Congress is still debating these changes and even if these lawmakers decide to approve the changes, it will have to move to the Senate. This is the biggest challenge the proposed changes will make.
The Senate often focuses on corporate interests and big business. Lobbyists have a lot of influence on lawmakers in the Senate, so there is a very good chance that the Senate will not approve the proposed changes. Also, even if the Senate approves the bill, it then moves to the President for a signature before it can become law. Although there is no way to tell what decision the President would make, it is just one more step that makes getting bills made into law more difficult.
While this may sound like bad news to consumers, even if the changes are not passed, it is still encouraging that lawmakers are starting to recognize the fact that recent court decisions have weakened the protections provided within the Act. This could mean that even if the changes are not passed this time around, they may come up again in the future and may be approved at that time.
Has a Debt Collector Violated Your Rights? Call Our Florida Debt Defense Lawyers
Even though the proposed changes have not been passed into law yet, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act still offers consumers many protections. If you feel as though a debt collector has violated your rights, it is important to understand that you can take action. With the help of one of our Fort Lauderdale debt defense attorneys at Loan Lawyers, you can file a lawsuit against them to claim compensation for any losses you have sustained.
We have the experience necessary to hold debt collectors accountable for their actions and can help make things right. We can also help you find a debt solution that is right for you, so you can get back on your feet and get out from under your debt. To learn more, call us today at (954) 523-HELP (4357) to learn more.