First it was Too Big To Fail banks, then it was predatory lenders, now it’s debt collection agencies.
Is there anyone Andy Barr is not working for? (Hint: the people of Kentucky.)
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission posted this October 10th letter to Andy Barr on their website:
The letter concerns a longstanding and ongoing effort by the industry trade group that represents America’s debt collectors to make it easier for them to harass hard working Americans — a third of whom have debts in collection (it’s even higher in Kebtucky but we’ll get to that).
They want to have easier access to you — and Andy Barr is helping them get it. The letter concerns a prohibition that hinders the ability of debt collection agencies to call your cell phone. The use of an autodialing system has been targeted by consumer protection advocates as a way of striking back at debt collectors whose tactics are often heavy-handed, and in many cases against the law. Most people in debt don’t know their rights and in most cases, the debt collectors violating those rights get away with their violations because consumers don’t realize they’re being violated. As Andy Barr is arguing, it would be easier for debt collectors if the rights you didn’t know were being violated weren’t actually rights at all.
Andy Barr’s argument is this: If the laws were written to protect debt collectors instead of American citizens, then American citizens would have no protection from predatory debt collectors.
As the Herald Leader has reported at length, Andy Barr is already provably in the pocket of the Predatory Payday Loan industry.
These predatory loan sharks have given Andy Barr tens of thousands of dollars and Andy Barr is pushing for de-regulation to protect their predatory practices.
Predatory lenders have a business model that explicitly creates a cycle of debt. You borrow money from them… then you borrow more to pay off the first loan… and you borrow more to pay off the loan you borrowed to pay off the previous loan… and so forth.
This cycle of debt is then subject to collection. As with credit cards, student loans and all manner of other debt regular working Americans accrue in their efforts to just barely squeak by week-to-week and paycheck-to-paycheck while still feeding themselves and their children, this debt is then subject to overbearing collection agencies.
And as the letter above demonstrates, Andy Barr is working to protect those collection agencies and their ability to harass regular working Americans — to the point of against-the-law activities… which, again, wouldn’t be against the law if Andy Barr had his way.
Andy Barr represents debt collectors… not the people of Kentucky’s 6th District — who, it’s worth noting, are heavily in debt.
A report from the Urban Institute released this past July found that 1 in 3 Americans with a credit file has a debt in collections:
Roughly 77 million Americans, or 35 percent of adults with a credit file, have a report of debt in collections. These adults owe an average of $5,178 (median $1,349). Debt in collections involves a nonmortgage bill—such as a credit card balance, medical or utility bill—that is more than 180 days past due and has been placed in collections. 5.3 percent of people with a credit file have a report of past due debt, indicating they are between 30 and 180 days late on a nonmortgage payment. Both debt in collections and debt past due are concentrated in the South.
The Urban Institutes findings show that 42% of people in Kentucky have a debt in collections and that those Kentuckians have an average debt in collections of $4,420.
The Association of Credit and Collections Professionals represents an industry that operates under the purview of the House Financial Services Committee — on which Andy Barr sits. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Law, which Andy Barr has dedicated his first two years in office to over-turning and undermining, seeks to protect consumers from predatory lenders and predatory collection agencies.
And here’s why the Debt Collectors and the Predatory Payday Lenders are paying protection money to Andy Barr. He represents them, not the people of Kentucky:
The U.S. consumer finance regulator says it has privately reprimanded several short-term lenders for making abusive calls to consumers, improperly disclosing personal information and making false threats.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a report Thursday its examiners have found numerous instances in which short-term “payday” lenders and debt collectors have been breaking federal consumer-protection laws.
The CFPB report, which didn’t single out companies by name, could foreshadow future action by the agency. The CFPB’s examiners typically alert companies to their concerns and privately direct them to fix problems. For more severe violations, the regulator can open an investigation that may lead to public sanctions and fines.
The report provides the first detailed look at the regulator’s behind-the-scenes activities in supervising key players in the non-bank financial industry. Such companies had not been scrutinized at the federal level before the CFPB’s creation nearly three years ago.