Pointing Fingers – Iran and Debt Collectors

Grind for June 1st
“Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”

– Bob Dylan

Do Not Disturb

The Headline

CFPB proposal would impose new restrictions on debt collectors

The Grind

If you are one of more than 43 million Americans with overdue medical bills, you’ve probably received a letter or phone call from a debt collector.

Federal law already prevents debt collectors from making calls before 8:00am or after 9:00pm, but new rules proposed this month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) would block them from calling about a single bill more than 7 times during a given week.

The new rules would also give consumers the opportunity to opt out of text and email messages from collectors and in some cases block agencies from suing over debts that have passed a certain time limit.

The Details

Critics of the proposal say it won’t stop collections agencies’ harassment.

“This really doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers and make sure that consumers are not abused or harassed or subject to unfair collection practices in debt collection,” argues attorney April Kuehnhoff.

As Kuehnhoff points out, people will multiple medical bills would still be subject to dozens of calls every week.

Debt collectors believe the new restrictions would make matters worse by making it easier for consumers to avoid paying their bills.

Others insist the problem stems not from collection agencies, but from those who initiate medical bills. For example: did a patient’s health insurance company pay the correct amount? Was the patient screened for Medicaid eligibility or financial assistance?

Further problems are caused when medical bills are sold and re-sold to collections agencies.

To reduce errors, the CFPB also wants all medical bills to come with verification information as well as instructions about how to dispute a debt.

For now, we urge all consumers who are contacted by debt collectors to ask (in writing) for bill validation before making payments.

Dark Roast

The Headline

White House official says Iran “almost certainly” to blame for attack near Strait of Hormuz

The Grind

US National Security Adviser John Bolton this week said that “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” were to blame for the mysterious attack on four tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on May 12th.

“There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who’s responsible for this,” said Bolton during a visit to the UAE on Wednesday. “Who else would you think is doing it?”

Bolton also blamed Iran (or a proxy) for the recent drone attacks on oil stations in Saudi Arabia as well as the rocket attack that landed near the US Embassy in Baghdad on May 19th.

The Details

While the US and Saudi Arabia immediately suspected Iran was to blame for the attack, no hard evidence has been found.

Iran denied responsibility for the attack and referred to Bolton’s accusations as “laughable.”

“Iran’s strategic patience, vigilance, and defensive prowess will defuse mischievous plots made by Bolton and other warmongers,” said Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

The Background

The Strait of Hormuz, located south of Iran, is a narrow waterway through which one third of all the world’s oil tanker traffic passes.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to block the strait if the US attempts to block its oil exports.

Last month, the Trump Administration announced it would not be renewing waivers allowing countries to purchase Iranian oil.

This month, the Pentagon dispatched a carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Arabian Sea to safeguard US interests there in the face of increased aggression from Iran.

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