Tired of Debt Collectors’ Harassing Calls? You Could Get Texts and Emails

Tired of debt collectors’ harassing calls? Their newest tactics could involve pestering you through texts and emails — maybe even on Facebook.

If a recently proposed update to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is approved, collectors would be limited to calling you seven times a week per debt, but they could send you unlimited emails and texts.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking to update the law that was passed in 1977.

The FTC enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which was originally passed to provide consumers with legal protection from abusive, unfair or deceptive debt collection practices.

Both consumer advocates and debt collection companies say the law is out of date, particularly since digital communications weren’t an option when the law was created, according to Bruce McClary, vice president of communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Washington, D.C.

However, based on his early analysis and discussions with others in the industry, McClary actually laughed when asked how the updates would help consumers more than the current law.

“I think a lot of consumer advocates are very concerned that there is less in here for the consumer and more in these rules for the debt collection agencies,” McClary said.

How FDCPA Updates Could Affect Debt Collections

We should start by emphasizing the proposed change was only released on Tuesday, so the experts are still sifting through the text and discussing how it could affect debt collection practices, according to McClary.

“But there are some things that people need to be aware that could actually make it a little bit more difficult for those who owe a debt and are being contacted by debt collectors,” he said.

Here’s how the changes could affect you.

How Many Calls From a Debt Collector Is Considered Harassment?

According to the proposed rule, anything over seven in one week in regards to a specific debt is considered harassment. And once the collector has spoken with the consumer, the collection agency must wait a week before calling the consumer again in regards to the debt.

That may seem reasonable, but many people who are overdue on debts rarely owe on only one account, McClary points out.  

“If you think about it, a person might not just owe one debt — they may have three debts in collections, so that’s 21 attempted contacts per week that would be allowed,” he said. “It’s easy to understand how this might add a little more stress than some of the regulations that are currently in place.”

How Debt Collectors Could Utilize Electronic Communications

The next part in the proposed law opens up options for other communications from debt collectors, including via email and text.

You’d have the option to unsubscribe from future communications via these methods, the proposed law states. It is designed to modernize communication options for consumers more used to using inboxes than mailboxes.

However, one of the protections within the current FDCPA is the right to demand a debt validation letter, which third-party debt collectors are required to send to you upon request.

Pro Tip

A debt validation letter must include how much you owe, who you owe it to and what action you can take. It is one of the main tools to catch mistakes or frauds.

If debt collectors send you an email, they could use it as an opportunity to start collecting payments without clearly explaining information you have the right to know, according to McClary.

“There’s the possibility that they could include DocuSign elements in these emails that allow for people to request validation of debt — or to enter into agreements to repay the debt,” he said.

And unlike phone calls, there’s no mention on a limit for the number of contacts when it comes to electronic communications.

Social Media Options for Debt Collection

The proposed change also left the door open for social media exchanges, which could offer new opportunities for collection agencies to reach consumers where they are.

However, the current law prohibits debt collectors from disclosing any information about the debt — or even the reason for the contact — to anyone other than the person who owes the debt, according to McClary. That discretion becomes more challenging in the world of social media.

“There’s one debt collector that even suggested that if some of the changes… go into effect, they’ll be able to use social media tools like WhatsApp to contact people,” McClary said. “That’s a little more alarming. There are privacy issues when you start talking about social media as a communications tool for debt collectors.”

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

For now, the changes to the FDCPA are only proposals, so you can still rely on mail communication options like debt validation letters and debt verification letters You can also demand that debt collectors stop contacting you at certain times or places (like your work), according to McClary.

He also notes that some states provide consumer protection above and beyond the FDCPA, which you can find out about by heading to your state’s attorney general website.

“These states are already looking at ways to update their own regulations once changes are put in place on a national level,” he said.

And as far as what the future may hold, “it’s really too soon to tell,” McClary said. “Exercise your right to control the conversation as the act is written in its present form.”

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then say hi to her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Seth Meyers Goes Off on Senate Republicans for ‘Obsessing’ Over Hillary Clinton’s Emails During Barr Testimony

NBC

Late Night host Seth Meyers dedicated his “A Closer Look” segment Wednesday night to today’s testimony of Attorney General William Barr in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barr, who was handpicked for the AG role by President Trump, had to answer for why his four-page summary of the Mueller Report “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the report—this according to the office of Robert Mueller.

“So now we know that the guy who spent almost two years putting together a 448-page report about a criminal conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election complained that Trump’s handpicked attorney general misled the country about that report. That’s huge news,” explained Meyers. “And yet, when they had the chance to ask Barr about that news in a hearing today, Republican senators mostly acted like it didn’t happen.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Magic Johnson’s Resignation From Lakers Prompted By Emails Criticizing His Performance

News details have emerged surrounding Magic Johnson’s resignation from the Lakers as president of basketball operations earlier this month.

According to a Bleacher Report (via Sporting News), the NBA star quit after he was copied on emails between team co-owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka criticizing his performance with the Lakers.

Fox Sports 1 analyst Ric Bucher shared details about the emails during his appearance on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on Wednesday.

“My understanding is that there were some emails that were exchanged between Rob and Jeanie about Magic and about what Magic was and wasn’t doing,” Bucher told Cowherd. “They were critical emails. And somehow, some way, Jeanie from what I understand was CC’ing or BCC’ing Magic on everything. That was sort of protocol, standard issue. Somehow the exchange between Rob and Jeanie ended up on that string of the blind CC’s that were going to Magic,” he explained.

“So Magic now is seeing emails from Rob to Jeanie that were critical of what he was doing. And maybe most important in all of this, there’s no indication that Jeanie was backing Rob up, in terms of either going to Magic and letting him know that this was going on, or going back at Rob and defending Magic. That was not happening. And so when he talked about the backstabbing, to me my understanding is that’s what started it.”

Johnson appeared to co-sign Bucher’s comments with a tweet on Thursday, saying: “The truth will always come to light,” he wrote (see the post below).

Magic didn’t tell Buss or Pelinka about his decision to quit before shocking fans and NBA colleagues with the announcement at the Lakers’ final game of the season.

“What I didn’t like was the backstabbing and the whispering,” Johnson told reporters. “I didn’t like that. I didn’t like a lot of things that went on that didn’t have to go on.”

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Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion, shows emails threatening to publish nude selfies

Bezos claims a lawyer for the National Enquirer threatened to post sexual pictures he had sent via text to his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
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Jeff Bezos Publishes Emails From National Enquirer Threatening to Leak Salacious Photos

The dispute between Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer just took an appropriately tabloid-ish turn.

In a detailed essay posted to Medium, the 55-year-old Amazon founder and owner of The Washington Post alleged that The National Enquirer recently threatened to release racy photos of Bezos and girlfriend Lauren Sanchez. Bezos described the attempt as “extortion and blackmail.”

“I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Bezos wrote. “Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing.” He added: “I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.”

Bezos then printed an email exchange, purportedly from Dylan Howard, an employee at American Media, Inc. (AMI), the company that owns the National Enquirer. In the message, Howard notes the publication had acquired several potentially embarrassing photos of Bezos and Sanchez, including “a full-length scantily-clad body shot [of Bezos] with short trunks” and “a naked selfie in a bathroomwhile wearing his wedding ring.”

AMI chairman and CEO David Pecker is a long-time friend of President Donald Trump. Last year, Pecker received immunity for testifying in a federal investigation into his role in payments made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president.

Pecker has also sought to forge deep connections with businesses in Saudi Arabia. Bezos said he’d been informed that Pecker was “apoplectic” about the Post‘s recent investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “We were approached, verbally at first, with an offer,” Bezos wrote. “They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.”

Instead, Bezos decided to pre-emptively publish descriptions of the embarrassing materials himself.

Bezos’ missive is the latest in a lengthy feud between the Amazon honcho and the popular supermarket tabloid. Last month, after months of research, the Enquirer published an investigation detailing an affair between Bezos and Sanchez, a news personality and pilot. The report, which included several steamy texts between the couple, was released shortly after Bezos announced he’d split from MacKenzie Bezos, his wife of 25 years.

Earlier this week, the Bezos-owned Washington Post published its own investigation into the Enquirer‘s investigation, trying to determine whether the piece was a “political hit” on Bezos, and how his personal messages were compromised.

The Post‘s coverage apparently didn’t please representatives of the Enquirer. In his essay, Bezos also included an email purportedly sent by an American Media lawyer, demanding a “mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

Bezos has strived in the past to distance himself from the work of the Post, in order to maintain the paper’s objectivity. He notably published his column not in the newspaper, but on the independently owned website Medium.

But Bezos acknowledged that his ownership of the paper “is a complexifier for me,” adding: “It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy. President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets.”

Still, Bezos wrote, he was determined not to back down on his dealings with tabloid. “Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here,” he wrote. “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?” He ended his essay with a determined salvo: “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”

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Christian Dawkins’ emails detail payment plans to several players

Federal authorities have given NCAA officials their approval to move ahead with an investigation of alleged rules violations that came to light during the first of three federal criminal trials involving pay-for-play schemes and other corruption in college basketball, ESPN has confirmed. During last month’s trials in New York, evidence and testimony were presented that alleged potential rules violations involving coaches and players at Arizona, Creighton, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, NC State, Oklahoma State, Oregon and other programs. ESPN reported in February that as many as three dozen Division I programs, including many of the sport’s traditional powers, might be facing NCAA sanctions once the federal government releases information that it acquired during its clandestine, three-year investigation. Among the most revealing evidence turned over to the NCAA, according to documents obtained by Outside the Lines, is a business plan that aspiring agent Christian Dawkins…
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