Tag Archive | Consumer protection

New Limitations on what Debt Collection Agencies are allowed to do

There could be no national economy without debt. Owing money is one of those things that is just a part of life. However, personal debt can get out of control and people may find it difficult to pay back the money that they owe to creditors. This is where debt collection comes into the equation. And it turns out that the people of this country are having some very big problems with debt collections companies. There are over 6,000 of these companies in the country and some of them use aggressive collections tactics in order to reclaim money that people owe.

There have been so many complaints about debt collections companies that the CFPB is proposing new rules that are designed to help bring this industry under control a bit, while providing some much-needed relief for American consumers who are struggling with repaying their debts.credit card debt

There are more than 130,000 people who work in the debt collection industry and those folks bring in over $13 billion each year. This industry has become more complex over the past few years. Some creditors will sell outstanding debts for pennies on the dollar. Third party debt collection firms purchase these debts and often use some very shady tactics to get their job done.

Chiming in on the current state of debt collections in the United States the CFPB Director, Richard Cordray said, “Often debt collectors are motivated to go to almost any lengths to try to extract as much as they possibly can from the debtor. This is because they are typically paid based on the amount they collect, the relationship may be fleeting, and the more distant risk of being called to account later may not outweigh the immediate urgency of getting paid today.”

If Cordray and the CFPB get their way, here are some of the things debt collectors will not be able to do in the future:

  • Collect on debts that do not exist. Some consumers have been hit up by debt collectors for money that they don’t even owe. This happens sometimes due to error and sometimes due to fraud on the part of debt collections companies. The CFPB has proposed that collectors will have to verify that a debt exists prior to beginning any collections actions.
  • Demanding payment without letting consumers know their rights. Debt collectors often rely on using confusing statements when they contact people. Debt collections companies will often only let people know their rights via cryptic, legalistic language the most people cannot understand. The CFPB wants to make these types of communications more transparent and easy to understand for consumers.
  • Endlessly harassing people to repay. Some collections agencies will call and even email people non-stop. They seem to think that the more they annoy people the more likely it is that they will be able to collect. The CFPB has proposed that limits be put on how many times debt collections agencies are allowed to make contact with consumers. The proposed limit is 6 times per week that agencies are allowed to contact people. This applies to phone calls, email or even letters sent to people.

The best way to avoid the hassles of dealing with debt collectors is to avoid getting in so much debt that you cannot repay what you owe. However, sometimes that is impossible, and sometimes you may not even really own money, but still wind up getting hassled by debt collectors. These new limitations should help people to avoid the potential nightmare that can happen when dealing with the worst kinds of debt collections companies.

The Great Payday Lending Battle Understanding Florida Payday Loan Regulations

There are currently elected officials – both Democrats and Republicans – who have joined forces to push back against the CFPB’s new payday loan regulations. Many of the opponents of the CFPB’s proposed regulations have mentioned that Florida does a great job regulating this industry at the state level. As such, these people believe that states should have the right to regulate short term loans without interference from the CFPB or any organization that represents the federal government. To help you get more insight into this issue, it is wise to understand the Florida payday regulations for yourself. Here are some things you need to know about payday lending regulations in Florida

Number of Loans are Restricted as are Loan Amounts

A borrower can only have a single outstanding payday loan at any given time. There is a centralized database that is used to track every payday loan processed in the Sunshine State. When a borrower pays back their loan, an extra 24 hour cooling off period is tacked on prior to that person being able to take out another loan. The maximum amount that someone can borrow from a payday lender is $500.

payday21Terms of Florida Payday Loans

A payday loan cannot be given for less than 7 days or more than 31. These loans cannot be rolled over. For example, if someone takes out a two week payday loan, the lender is not allowed to rollover (renew) the loan, tacking on extra fees and running the life of the loan for another two weeks. Note that in this scenario the total loan time would be under 31 days. Terms are set when a borrower takes out a loan. However, if they are not able to pay, loans can be extended without any additional fees being charged.

Payday Loan Fees

The laws in Florida put limits on fees that can be charged on payday loans. The fee cap is set at 10 percent of the loan amount. Additionally, any loan costs, like verification fees, are strictly limited to just five dollars per loan. It should also be noted that the fee cap is not one that accrues over the course of time. If someone were to take a year to pay off a payday loan, for example, the 10 percent would not snowball into a huge fee. If it were for a $200 loan, the fee would never be more than the 10 percent, or $20, plus costs that top out at $5.

Payday Loan Grace Periods

In Florida the law states that borrowers are given a 60 day grace period if they are not able to pay back loans on the original due date. In order to get the grace period, though, borrowers must set up an appointment with a credit counseling agency within a week of the loan due date and complete a credit counseling course within the 60 days of grace that are given. The credit counseling company may recommend a repayment plan, and the borrower must pay their debt according to this plan without incurring any extra fees or loan costs.

Collection Policies

If someone gives a lender a check and the check bounces, there are limits on what lenders can do. The lender cannot pursue criminal actions against the borrower. The lender is allowed to demand payment, but costs are capped at the 10 percent fee and a $5 fee for bad checks that the lender might get charged for from their own bank. Payday lenders can only get additional money if they file a lawsuit and the court sees fit to side with the lending company on this matter.

These are just some of the main points of Florida payday lending regulation. Some are pushing for Florida to be the model for the entire nation, while others simply want the CFPB to back off and allow states to decide on their own how to best regulate the short term lending industry. Which solution do you think is the best for your state?

Can Payday Lenders and the CFPB Come to an Understanding?

There are lots of subjects that divide people on a regular basis. Folks who love one form of music, may despise another musical form. Some people think spending time outdoors is amazing, while others don’t like to venture too far from their favorite living room chair. And forget about trying to get conservatives and liberals to agree on much of anything. Another decisive issue that is getting a lot of attention lately is that of short term lending. Some consumer advocates believe that these loans are the worst thing in the world, while others believe that payday lending companies provide a valuable service to their customers. There’s just no reaching a middle ground on some subjects.direct_payday_loans_pros_cons1

Many who fashion themselves as consumer protectors have a deep seated hatred of short term loans, and view the providers of these loans in a bad light. People who tend to favor consumer choice usually believe that grown people in this country are fully capable and allowed to make choices about the types of financial products and services they choose to pay for; even if a loan has expensive fees to pay, these folks believe that everyone should have the freedom of choice to decide on their own.

As far apart as these two groups seem to be, there may actually be some common ground that both sides are not even aware of: They both want consumers to get reasonable access to lines of credit, and expect that those products are priced fairly for the people that use them. Once you get past that basic fact, though, the contention between both sides begins to heat up to a point where some people get downright nasty about the topic.

For example, there are news stories now about how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – the most powerful and vociferous of all the groups against payday lending – has been violating the sovereignty of Native American tribes as a part of their efforts to introduce new regulations on the payday lending industry. This industry happens to be a major source of income and employment for some tribes. This is a precarious battle that will likely wage for some time to come.

The Public Affairs Head for Advance American Jamie Fulmer said, “What strikes us is that when the Bureau was established by Professor and now Senator Warren and Director Cordray, there was a lot of talk about the need not to dictate consumer choice but to provide a level playing field across a broad spectrum of financial services companies.” Fulmer went on to note that the financial landscape right now is not so level right now.

In a recent interview Fulmer explained, “Customers are redefining what mainstream customer services are. We think the type of loan we are type of providing falls strongly in the mainstream, because consumers find that they have an increased, yet regular, need for small dollar short-term credit. We believe that was the correct approach and it was rooted in ensuring simplicity, transparency and full and complete and understandable disclosure.”

As to whether or not the CFPB and the major players in the payday lending industry can ever come to an understanding is something that we will all have to wait and see. However, more people – both private citizens and elected officials – are now starting to come out of the woodwork in support of the freedom of financial choice that payday lenders provide to their customers. Proponents of payday lending seem willing to reach common ground; the ball is now in the court of the CFPB.