Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Time for a Commonsense Approach to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

In an opinion piece for The Hill, former Federal Communications Commission chief of staff and legal advisor Adonis Hoffman explains the impact of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act on businesses as a “strict liability statute.” The FCC has tried to clarify the uncertainty about liability under the TCPA, but those efforts have created more confusion, according to Hoffman. Businesses’ uncertainty is resulting in avoidance of establishing compliance oversight programs with third-party providers, “out of fear that such oversight would be used against them in litigation.” The response should be a commonsense approach to the TCPA, such as one effort by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, (R-Mont.), to amend the TCPA with incentives for voluntary compliance programs, according to Hoffman. “Compliance programs that are recognized and protected in the law would move us closer to the intersection of consumer protection and corporate responsibility and alleviate costly litigation which hurts corporations and consumers alike.”
Read the article here.

Student Loan Debt Has Ripple Effect for Borrowers Across Income Levels

According to a new report from Consumer Reports and The Center for Investigative Reporting, 42 million consumers owe a combined $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, and many of those consumers say their college education wasn’t worth the expense based upon factors such as the amount of debt, income and employment status.
Consumer Reports conducted a survey of 1,500 consumers with student loan debt. Overall, 45 percent of respondents who are no longer in college and paying student loans say it wasn’t worth it, according to a news release.
Of those respondents:
  • 38 percent didn’t graduate from their college;
  • 69 percent reported trouble paying their loans;
  • 78 percent have income of less than $50,000 per year; and
  • 43 percent didn’t have their parents’ input on financial aid decisions.
More than half of the respondents (51 percent) said they have had a problem making a monthly payment at least once. That group is more likely to have higher student debt and a lower annual salary.  Also, 76 percent of consumers with debt who said they did not graduate said they had problems keeping up with payments, according to the survey. More info here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Department of Education Proposes Banning Arbitration Agreements Between Schools, Student Loan Borrowers

The proposal is part of a larger rulemaking to protect student borrowers and taxpayers from “predatory” practices by postsecondary institutions.The U.S. Department of Education has proposed new regulations to strengthen its existing rule on student loan forgiveness, including a ban on the use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses and class action waivers.Under the proposed regulations, schools participating in the Direct Loan Program would be prohibited from requiring, through the use of contractual provisions or other agreements, arbitration to resolve claims brought by a borrower against the school, as well as from obtaining agreement that a borrower waive his or her right to initiate or participate in a class action lawsuit regarding such claims. In addition, Ed is also proposing to impose certain notification and disclosure requirements on a school regarding claims that are voluntarily submitted to arbitration after a dispute has arisen. More info here:

FCC Consumer Advisory Committee Reviews TCPA Proposed Rule

The committee discussed that from a consumer perspective the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking contains strong proposals to regulate federal debt collection calls and that it supports the NPRM overall.The Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee reviewed the FCC’s proposed rule on government debt collection calls during a meeting June 10 and made recommendations to inform the current rulemaking to implement amendments to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. More info here:

Research Shows Medicaid Expansion Reduces Debt Sent to Collections

Researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York find sharp decreases in collection balances in counties with high uninsured rates and Medicaid expansion, as well as some impact on credit card balances. U.S. counties that expanded Medicaid since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the first quarter of 2014, and had a high uninsured rate before that time, experienced a decrease in debt sent to collection agencies. More info here:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Economists Predict Overall Financial Rebound This Year

Consumer spending growth is expected to slow down slightly, but it will still have a positive impact on the economy. More info here:

Credit Card Rewards Can Slash Student Loans

Some student loan borrowers have found they can use reward points from credit card purchases toward their education bills, but consumers should be sure to check with their student loan servicers to see if they accept the form of payment.

More info here:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

BBB of Central New England Reports Fake Debt Collection Calls

Consumers say callers respond with threats of arrest to garnish their wages if they do not pay or question the bill. Legitimate debt collectors do not take such actions and should know about the fake calls in the New England area.

More info here: