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Rep. Porter Investigates Invasive Debt Collection Practices That Jeopardize Consumer Privacy

Congresswoman calls out Administration officials for new proposal that could put protected health information at risk

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today called out Trump Administration officials for a proposal that would enable debt collection practices that place patients’ private information at risk. The Administration’s new policy, which allows debt collectors to use unsecured means of communication, is particularly concerning for Americans with medical debt, as the lack of data security could expose protected health information to the public.

“No matter how you slice it, this proposal centers what debt collectors want at the expense of consumers and their privacy,” Congresswoman Porter said. “The Trump Administration has an obligation to the American public to stand up to special interests and do what’s right, especially when we’re dealing with something as serious as people’s protected health information.”

The Administration’s proposed rule allows debt collectors to contact consumers directly through text message and social media. This allows information to be sent to the wrong person, creates unencrypted pathways for communication, and makes confidential medical information the property of the social media platform. 

In a letter sent today, Porter asks that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar “conduct—and make public—a formal review of the privacy, health, and financial implications of this proposed regulation and incorporate the results into any rulemaking.”

A longtime commercial law professor and consumer protection advocate, Porter has made consumer protection a top priority in Congress. She stood up to leaders of both parties to speak up against a bill that would prevent the IRS from creating its own program to allow Americans to file their taxes for free. At a Financial Services Committee hearing last year, she exposed Director Kraninger for her unfamiliarity with the basics of consumer lending. She called out Equifax CEO Mark Begor for arguing in federal court that his company’s data breach did not harm consumers.

Read the Congresswoman’s letter to Director Kraninger and Secretary Azar HERE.