Ugly Provision in Budget Deal for People with Student Loan Debt

[Content Note: Harassment.]

A provision in the new budget deal will allow federal student loan debt collectors to bypass the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in order to bombard borrowers via auto-dialers:
Consumers with cell phones who haven't given companies permission to bombard their mobile devices with texts, pre-recorded messages or calls made using auto-dialers are typically protected under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

But the measure in the potential budget deal (Section 301) would amend existing law to allow companies to use auto-dialers when they call borrowers' cell phones -- even when federal student loan borrowers haven't consented to them, and even if the borrowers will be charged for them. Creditors already have the authority to auto-dial borrowers' land lines without consent.

...Consumer groups have warned that allowing debt collectors and loan servicers to auto-dial borrowers' cell phones would waste precious cell phone minutes, especially for low-income households that rely on prepaid plans, and that even when borrowers manage to get student loan specialists on the phone, they're frequently misled or given incomplete information, including about income-driven repayment plans.
And lest you imagine this is just the work of outgoing Speaker John Boehner, who has close ties to debt collections industry lobbyists, or his pro-corporate, consent-hostile party, President Obama is fully on board, too: "Obama has repeatedly pushed Congress to change the law to allow more of these calls, on the grounds that doing so would lead to higher recoveries on delinquent student loan debt."

This, despite the fact that there is "little, if any, independent evidence that giving debt collectors or loan servicers this power would lead to fewer loan defaults or delinquencies."

Basically, it's an excuse to harass people. People who are frequently already under an enormous amount of stress and pressure because of student loan debt.

Really just fucking thrilled that both parties could find a way to work together in order to devise a way to harass people with student loans, especially after they came together years ago to tell under- and unemployed people to take out those loans and buy themselves an education, instead of creating and keeping onshore for those people jobs with a livable wage.

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