Debt collectors push for better communication opportunities - - Jackson, MS

Debt collectors push for better communication opportunities

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It's a blueprint, laying out how debt collectors believe they should be able to operate, and in it, proposed updates to current laws which balance the roles between consumers and collectors.

"There's mountains of unpaid consumer debt that businesses are trying to collect," said Association of Credit and Collection Professionals Public Affairs Director Mark Schiffman.

In an effort to modernize the nation's debt collection system, taking into account shifts in communication technologies and social media, collection agencies are wanting to shift as well, by calling your cell phone and even sending you an e-mail.

"This isn't telemarketing. This is collecting on debts that someone has incurred," said Schiffman.

It's a push from the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals and supported by the Associated Collectors of Mississippi. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act currently in place limits how collectors operate, and with more and more folks ditching those landlines, Schiffman says it's time to update.

"The laws themselves are fairly unclear in how they treat these new technologies so what we're primarily seeking is clarity so that we make sure we're using them correctly," said Schiffman.

Collectors would only be able to e-mail and call a cell phone if the consumer provides the information on any type of credit or loan application, and in most cases that contact information is required.

While Schiffman agrees most people cringe at the thought of a debt collector. He says the system plays a critical role in the economy. According to the Federal Reserve in 2010, the total amount of consumer debt in the United States was more than $2.45 trillion, with an average credit card debt per household of more than $16,000.

"If you look at it in Mississippi, I'm sure there are businesses in the state that rely on the work of third party debt collectors to recover consumer debt," said Schiffman.

The blueprint also addresses the need for auto dialing, better litigation practices and improving debt documentation.

"I can't imagine that anybody wants to be contacted by a debt collector for any reason, but the reality is, is that people have incurred debt be that credit that was extended from businesses from Main Street to Wall Street," said Schiffman.

Debt collectors would still be prohibited from harassing, threatening and misidentifying themselves to consumers. Consumers would still be able to tell a collector to no longer call them if they're contacted.

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