Money Matters: 5 consumer stories from the past year to update this month

Education Resources, Finance 411,

It’s a new year and a traditionally slow month for news, so now’s a great time to update consumers on money stories from the past year while trying out consumer reporting.

Here are a few of our top stories from the past year to revisit with new updates, developments and financial literacy tips.

Robocalls were a growing issue in the past year, with efforts by several agencies to crack down on illegal phone sales tactics. As of January 1, the newly signed into law TRACED Act further stiffens penalties for illegal robocalls and makes it easier to identify and avoid answering robocalls. It also enacts authentication methods to make it more difficult to spoof numbers. These measures should help consumers avoid illegal robocalls and phone scams.      

Student Debt
Student debt grew and federal agencies responsible for regulating loans and assisting student borrowers were weakened in the last year, contributing to a growing student debt crisis. Now, a nonprofit organization called Student Debt Crisis is suing the Department of Education and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for failing to protect student borrowers. How can student borrowers protect themselves? What of any changes can be expected this year?

Data Breaches
2019 again saw several major data breaches compromising consumers’ personal information, and developments in past breaches including the Equifax case. Now would be a good time to remind consumers of the January 22, 2020 deadline to file a claim in that case, and the ability for all consumers to get free Equifax credit reports for seven years starting this month, even without filing a claim. It’s also a good time to remind consumers of some steps to take both before and after potential data breaches.

Payday Loan Regulations
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed changes to payday loan regulations, potentially weakening some consumer protections. After a public comment period, it issued a final rule pushing back the compliance date for some provisions of a previously adopted rule. It had proposed eliminating some of those rules. How are lenders preparing for the rules, effective in November? What should potential borrowers know?

Debt Collection
The CFPB also proposed rules to enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, regulating how debt collectors can contact debtors. While the rules are still pending, a recent Supreme Court decision did rule that a one-year statute of limitations to file suit alleging violations of the act begins at the time of the action, not at the time consumers learn of the potential violation, in most cases. How might this affect consumers who are in debt? How can they protect themselves?

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