On June 7, 2019, 26 Democratic senators sent a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “Bureau”) Director Kathleen Kraninger criticizing the Bureau’s proposed rule to modify Regulation F under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  As we have previously discussed, the Bureau released its long-anticipated proposed rule on May 7, 2019.  Director Kraninger described the proposal as an effort to “modernize the legal regime for debt collection” and “ensure we have clear rules of the road where consumers know their rights and debt collectors know their limitations.”

The letter describes and criticizes the proposal in the following ways:

  • According to the letter, the proposed rule’s provisions regarding text messages and emails would “permit collectors to overwhelm consumers with intrusive communications” and “exacerbate and increase troubling harassment tactics.”
  • Collectors would not be required to use free-to-end-user text messaging; consumers can be required to receive information by clicking hyperlinks, which “raises security concerns”; and the rule allows an supported assumption that emails have been received by the consumer unless an “undeliverable” message is returned.  For these reasons, the rule generally “authorizes new forms of communication between debt collectors and consumers without extending essential consumer protections.”
  • Permitting collectors to make seven calls per week, per debt would “effectively permit[] debt collectors to inundate consumers with calls.”
  • By prohibiting the filing or threatening of filing a lawsuit only if the collector “knows or should know” that debt is not enforceable, the Bureau “could encourage collectors to practice willful ignorance about the status of the debt they collect.”

The following senators signed the letter: Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkely (D-Or.), Ron Wyden (D-Or.).

Comments on the Bureau’s proposed rule are due August 19, 2019.