Jimmy Patronis to CFPB: Debt Collectors Shouldn’t Weaponize Social Media Against Consumers

Last week, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra regarding provisions in new rules, which recently took effect by CFPB allowing debt collection agencies to contact debtors via email, text messages, and on social media.

In the letter, the CFO called on Director Rohit Chopra to reevaluate the merit of the provisions, which could lead to fraud and scams by criminals posing as debt collection agency representatives.

The letter is below.

Dear Director Chopra:

On behalf of the consumers of the state of Florida, I’m writing you today regarding provisions in new rules, which recently took effect by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that allow debt collection agencies the ability to contact debtors via email, text messages, and even on social media sites. I do not believe the federal government should allow debt collectors to weaponize social media against Florida consumers.

As the state’s Chief Financial Officer, my top concern is protecting Florida consumers from fraud. These days, there are too many online scams and threats taking advantage of consumers to allow debt collections companies to operate in this manner. In fact, I have no doubt there are scam artists scheming right now on how to defraud consumers through these provisions by posing as debt collectors. Currently, the Federal Trade Commission reports that the top category for fraud in Florida are imposter scams with over 43,000 reports in 2021 alone.

There are several other avenues for which legitimate debt collection companies can use to contact delinquent borrowers. I seriously doubt messages through text or social media will be effective in the long run and will cause further distrust in legitimate debt collection efforts.

I respectfully ask you to reevaluate the merit of these provisions and protect consumers from the pitfalls of online harassment, scams, and financial abuse. Please contact my office if you would like to discuss this matter further.

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