Washington D.C. (November 7th, 2019) – Today, the Trump-Kraninger CFPB’s top aide overseeing the overhaul of debt collection rules, Tom Pahl, is set to deliver the keynote address at a conference hosted by ACA International, the leading debt collection industry trade group. It will be the second ACA speaking engagement in three months for Pahl, an attorney who used to represent the debt industry and once wrote an op-ed opposing any limits on consumer contacts from debt collectors. Pahl is palling around with debt collectors at the same time the CFPB considers finalizing its rule that gives the industry exactly what they want: permission to send unlimited, unsolicited texts and emails to consumers, oftentimes over “zombie” debts too old to be legally pursued or that don’t even belong to the person.
“A Trump administration official is once again schmoozing with debt industry execs he used to call clients and is now writing the rules for. It doesn’t get much swampier than that,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Allied Progress. “The level of access the debt industry has gotten to this administration after many generous donations to Republican campaigns may be rivaled only by the payday loan industry. If only Director Kraninger and her staff were to spend half as much time talking to consumers as they do giving speeches to debt collectors at fancy hotels and resorts, perhaps the proposed rule wouldn’t be so rigged against working families. But consumers will know who to blame when they suddenly get inundated with texts and emails from strangers demanding that they click on risky hyperlinks.”
BACKGROUND: The CFPB’s debt collection proposal isn’t just hugely unpopular, it’s likely illegal after a federal appeals court recently ruled debt collection agencies were prohibited from asking consumers to click on hyperlinks to obtain legally-required notices about outstanding debt. The proposal seeks to permit exactly that. The Trump spam plan rewards the debt collection industry despite racking up among the highest number of consumer abuse complaints and millions of dollars in fines and legal penalties for misconduct. Allied Progress has released several reports on the issue, including: 1) an analysis showing the debt collection industry trade groups have spent over $2.1 million on federal lobbying since Trump took office, and debt collectors have donated over $343,000 to Republican political campaigns since 2016; 2) a report on the history of consumer abuse from some of the debt collection industry’s biggest players; and 3) an analysis of the public comments submitted on the rule finding that at least 1,221 comments filed in support of the rule came openly from the debt collection industry – amounting to 1 out of every 7 comments.