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Feds say tighter oversight of, enforcement over, debt collectors

As an indication of just how harassing debt collectors can be in Florida and across the country, consider this: More than 180,000 formal complaints were lodged with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2011 by consumers being targeted by collectors working as independent agents or as employees of debt buyers.

That there is a flat-out problem with the unethical behavior of many collectors and the patent illegality of some of their actions (please see our immediately preceding blog post) has never been more apparent. Richard Cordray, the head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), says that about 30 million consumers in the United States have accounts in collection and are being pursued by collectors.

Staggeringly, that figure equates to about 10 percent of all persons in the country seeking debt relief who are dealing with debt collectors. Although many of those persons pursuing consumers operate within the strict confines of the law, it is hardly a controversial statement to note that the industry is rife with misconduct and behavior that disregards federal and state protections.

Cordray's organization works in tandem with the FTC in overseeing and policing debt collection, with the CFPB receiving broad new powers through recent federal legislation. Cordray says that his agency intends to fully exploit those powers to "go after bad actors who flout the law."

The CFPB's grant to do so encompasses new groups and activities. Regulators will be looking hard at independent agents, credit card issuers and debt buyers, such as Asta Funding Inc., which notes the need "to be prepared for the heavy oversight that CFPB will bring."

One area being looked at especially closely is the Internet, specifically social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Debt collectors have begun sending consumers messages online, which will likely result in sanctions and enforcement actions once CFPB ramps up its activities.

Source: Bloomberg, "Debt collectors are going after people on social media," Carter Dougherty, Jan. 28, 2013

  • Persons in Miami and throughout Florida who are being harassed by debt collection agents and activities have legal rights and protections afforded under federal and state laws. No one needs to suffer from aggressive or illegal contacts initiated by collectors. Please visit our Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors page for information and feel free to contact our firm for clear advice and strong representation in any debt-related matter.

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