The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act has been in place for over 40 years -- and critics say that it's time for an upgrade to the rules in order to keep pace with the digital age.
That's probably not going to be good news for consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is set to announce new debt collection rules in a few weeks that likely will make it easier for debt collectors to track down their targets and avoid fines -- even when they're chasing "zombie" debts that long expired their legal ability to be collected.
Under the current federal administration, the CFPB has shown increasing signs that it is willing to roll back consumer protections and give some kinds of creditors -- especially payday lenders -- a freer reign.
One of the biggest changes consumers with debts may soon see is collectors harassing them through email and text messages. Currently, it's already difficult for consumers to avoid harassing phone calls thanks to technology like robocalls with ever-changing numbers of origin. Many fear that the onslaught of email and text messages will make things even worse. On the other hand, others argue that changes are necessary to make it possible to reach younger debtors -- who often prefer to communicate digitally.
The reality for the average consumer is this: They get behind on their debts because they have medical problems, suffer a job loss or encounter another financial crisis. No matter how much a creditor harasses them, they can't pay what they don't have. If that's the situation you are in, it might be time to talk to an attorney about your debt relief options.