Miller calls for new debt collection rules to help
"even playing field for consumers"
(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller joined attorneys general in 30 states plus the District of Columbia in urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to adopt strong new debt collection rules that will better protect consumers and military service members.
"We're providing input to the CFPB as it considers implementing new rules to ensure that debt buyers and debt collectors are following the law and that consumers are better protected," Miller said. The CFPB has sought input from regulators, the collection industry, and consumers about the debt collection system and avenues for rulemaking.
In comments Miller and his colleagues submitted Friday to the CFPB, attorneys general urged the consumer watchdog agency to "better enable debt collectors to abide by the law, create a more even playing field for consumers, provide greater consumer protections, and assist consumers in better understanding their rights."
In Iowa last year, debt collection complaints ranked number two in the number of complaints consumers filed with the Consumer Protection Division. Nationally, debt collection complaints topped all others that consumers filed with state attorneys general.
Among other recommendations, attorneys general urged the CFPB to:
- Give states co-enforcement authority to address violations of new debt collection rules
- Apply debt collection rules to original creditors as well as to debt buyers
- Require those who sell debts to transfer detailed original account information
- Ensure that collectors possess credible supporting evidence before initiating collection or litigation activity
- Require collectors to extend traditional collections tactics protections to new modes of communication, such as cell phones and text messages
- Implement rules to address the collection of time-barred debt
- Better protect service members by limiting collectors' contacts to service members, particularly those in combat zones
"We understand that debt collectors serve a legitimate need to collect debts, but we also must ensure that they treat consumers fairly," Miller said. "These proposed rules will help ensure that collectors are collecting the right debts from the right consumers, at the right time, for the right amount, and in the right manner."