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If you currently owe money on federal student loans, you might want to brace yourself for an onslaught of automated collection calls soon. That’s because the 2016 budget bill that Congress is now considering has a new rule built into that most people wouldn’t expect: firms collecting on federal education loans will be able to use more robocalls to reach their targets and the individual consumer will no longer be able to do anything about it.
Earlier this year, three former students sued Navient, a collection company for the federal student loan program , for harassing them with multiple phone calls a day, both at work and at home. They argued that by robocalling them on their work phones, Navient was violating a federal law which states that collection companies can only autodial their borrowers at the phone number they listed in their loan documents. But with the new rule in place, debt collectors working on behalf of the government will be able to start making repeated, automated calls to any number connected to a student loan borrower. That includes their old cell phone numbers and the phones numbers of family members.
Although debt collectors and their lobbyists have insisted for years that having the right to consistently autocall borrowers would cut the costs of loan servicing and generate cash flow for the federal student loan program, the Congressional Budget Office made a statement in October of this year claiming that the change wouldn’t necessarily bring in any new revenue over the next ten years.
It’s now up to the Federal Communications Commission to determine whether these companies should have any limits on the number of robocalls they can make and when they can make them. The FCC has the next nine months to consider these issues, as well as to decide if people will still have the right to revoke their consent to these calls. Consumer advocates argue that as long as borrowers retain that right, it will give them at least one way to fight back against a blitz of daily automated calls.
For those who do owe on federal student loans, this new rule could mean a whole new level of stress, while debt collectors would be handed a cheap, easy and legally-protected way to harass their targets without recourse. The best way to counter this action is to contact your Congressional representative and let them know your views on the topic of robocalls from federal student loan debt collectors today.
If you have questions or comments, please chat in the comments below or on the ChallengeStudentDebt Twitter handle.
If you feel you were defrauded by the school you attended or you are being treated poorly as a distressed borrower by your creditors, take the free challenge debt review to find out what options you have regarding your student loans.