Training addresses debt collection consumer rights

Consumer Action trainers conducting two free train-the trainer roundtables on Debt Collection: Know your rights.

Published: Friday, July 05, 2019

As Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon joined 24 of their colleagues from across the country in calling on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger to reverse a proposed rule that would allow debt collection companies to send unlimited texts and emails to consumers, our trainers were educating consumer groups on existing debt collection rules. Consumer Action trainers Nelson Santiago and Linda Williams were on the ground in Florida—a state the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dubbed the “scam capital of the nation”—conducting two free train-the trainer roundtables on one of our most popular training modules, Debt Collection: Know your rights.

The roundtables, held June 5 in Delray Beach and June 6 in Plantation, were geared toward frontline advocates who serve victims of domestic violence, farm workers, seniors, disabled veterans, immigrants and low-income consumers, and provide them with information, tools and resources. The roundtables work to educate this critical population on:

  • Consumer rights under federal and state laws when owing a debt;
  • Spotting debt collection scams;
  • Responding to debt collection calls;
  • Disputing a debt;
  • Time-barred debts;
  • Where to find free and low-cost help; and
  • Where to file a complaint.

Rachel Bentley, Esq., from the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach, provided attendees of both trainings with an engaging session on the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, which adds to existing protections under the national Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Florida law prohibits not only debt collectors, but also original creditors collecting a debt, from engaging in unfair and abusive collection practices, such as calling debtors at work or making empty threats of legal action. Bentley highlighted the issues and trends in debt collection that her office is seeing in Florida, including debt collectors who coerce consumers into reviving old debts that have passed the statute of limitations, and inadequate (or non-existent) attempts to serve notices of debt collection lawsuits that result in people with debts never knowing they are being sued and losing by default when they fail to show up in court.

The Florida training was such a success that Santiago and Williams have been invited back in the fall to educate a delegation of Palm Beach County employees on debt collection issues. The two will also continue visiting various cities and towns across the U.S. to help vulnerable populations push back against bad debt collection practices.

 

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