FTC Workshop: Debt Collection 2.0: Protecting Consumers As Technology Changes, Project No. P114802
To those participating in this workshop, please consider: The right to seek repayment for a debt is not a matter of personal pride and cannot come at the cost of our basic freedoms. When a person lends money, they take on a certain risk. This does not excuse the debtor for their account being delinquent. However, to beleaguer a person's life, and the lives of their family and friends for an overdue sum is an insult to even those without any debt, because everyone becomes a potential suspect in this scheme. It forces people to turn on their closest friends and relatives. The closeness that has been achieved through social media, the high school buddies, the distant cousins, the new internet friends with shared hobbies that we can all keep in contact with in spite of our bustling lives and busy schedules, will all be lost. Fear of exposure, perhaps not even of ourselves, but of our weakest loved ones will cause many to close down or close ranks and go backward in time. Not only will this century have marked the economic down turn, but a social one as well if we cannot keep the connections that we have made private unto ourselves and open between us without fear of them being exploited. To whom can we turn to for support, if we can't even keep those connections open, for fear of being taken advantage of that we must shut down those social accounts to avoid being harassed or having our loved ones harassed also? The creditors have access to an address, a phone number, a place of business, a business phone number and through the power of the internet and records, they can access any assets or public records citing any relatives and their information. The line must be drawn somewhere for otherwise signing a credit slip is the same as signing permission to allow your creditor to stalk you, charge you via text message, and everyone who has ever known you, access the most personal information, make psychological assessments based on that information to further figure out how to plague, molest and intimidate you more effectively. A debtor is a person. Even if you view them a thief they are entitled to better treatment than to have their families and friends hounded for information. Perspective in this matter is greatly needed as the debt collectors, and what they require of the people who work for them will not govern their own practices with it. The truth is there are ways for them to get paid that do not include the insidious practices they choose to undertake. Any one of their operators could simply suggest to the debtor to contact the non-profit National Foundation for Credit Counseling. All the NFCC does is assist people with debt in consolidating and paying off their debt. They work on a sliding scale fee, the debt collector would get paid and the debtor could stop feeling like a criminal. So, there is no need to harass people and their loved ones. There is no need to make them afraid to pick up the phone. People should not be afraid of money or credit. They should learn about it. They never will if they are too terrified to even admit who they are in any public forum. To allow creditors access to Social Media will create an even greater rift and make them afraid of their own names. This doesn't have to be a society where an overdue debt makes you afraid of living your life as not to inflict harassment on your family. Debt should not mean death. And without the ability to acknowledge who you are, what can you become? Jobs now require credit checks even. The ability to manage money is only one skill and it is not even one that is taught in school. Yet, a surprising amount in our society is given suffrage to those with exceptional acumen for its administration. I thank you for your time and attention.