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A proposed bill in Congress, which is supported by President Obama, would allow private collections agencies contracted with the U.S. Dept. of Education to “robo-call” cell phones of student loan borrowers who are in default. The change “is expected to provide substantial increases in collections, particularly as an increasing share of households no longer have landlines and rely instead on cellphones,” the Obama administration wrote recently. Of course, what the administration did not mention is that collections agencies are authorized to add on collections fees of up to 18% of the balance of a defaulted federal student loan. So everyone wins, except student borrowers.
The bill is strongly opposed by consumer groups, including the National Consumer Law Center, which argues that this bill would give debt collectors more power to harass and abuse student loan borrowers (and any other debtor who has defaulted on their obligation). Indeed, debt collectors frequently violate fair debt collection laws already, but this bill would give them even more flexibility in doing so. Progressive Democrats and consumer rights groups are furious that the Obama administration has the same position as the banking and private debt collection industries.
For more on this bill, click here and here.
To register your opposition to the bill and contact your Congressional representative, click here.
To contact the White House and express your view, click here.