When debt collectors communicate or try to communicate with consumers electronically they must describe how consumers can opt out of future communications. The law says that the methods for opting out must be reasonable and simple.
Section 1006.6(e) of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Regulation F requires an opt-out notice for any electronic communications or attempts by debt collectors to communicate with consumers. So, while electronic communications are legal, once a debt collector has utilized this form of contact, consumers must be given a legitimate way to stop these communications if they wish to do so.
What is an Electronic Communication Opt-Out Notice?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) explains the opt-out notice in its Debt Collection Rule Small Entity Compliance Guide.
The requirement for an opt-out notice applies when electronic communications (or attempts to communicate) are sent by any electronic medium that uses an electronic address. This may be to an email address, a telephone number that allows text messages, or any other electronic-medium address.
Additionally, the opt-out notice requirement applies to any “natural person.” This means a person who is obligated (or allegedly obligated) to pay a specific debt. It includes the indebted person’s spouse, parents (if the person is a minor), legal guardian, or successor upon death.
Most importantly, the opt-out notice must be both “clear and conspicuous.” The regulations don’t specify a particular type or size that the notice must be written in. But it needs to be clear and simple to read.
How Do You Tell a Debt Collector You Want to Opt Out?
According to the CFPB, all a consumer has to do is send a debt collector a request to stop, end, quit, or unsubscribe. Even if this message doesn’t conform with the debt collector’s exact opt-out instruction, the request is still valid.
What is a Reasonable & Simple Method to Opt Out?
Acceptable methods a debt collector can give you to opt out of electronic communications include:
- Providing a hyperlink where you can opt out
- Replying to the communication with the word “stop”
It is not acceptable for debt collectors to ask consumers to opt out using postal mail, telephone, or even by visiting a website without providing a link.
In all cases, it is essential that the opt-out notice is both clear and conspicuous. The consumer needs to immediately realize that opting out is possible.
A debt collector can send a consumer a hyperlink via email or a phone message that includes a hyperlink. This would, typically, say “click here to opt out of future emails to this email address.”
How Can You Opt-out of Debt Collection Emails?
As mentioned above, the debt collector can use email to share the hyperlink that will enable a consumer to opt out.
How Can You Opt-out of Debt Collection Phone/Text Messages?
The debt collector can send a text message to the consumer’s phone that enables them to opt out. Typically this would say something like, “Reply STOP to end texts being sent to your phone.”
Must I pay to Opt-Out of Electronic Communications
Absolutely not. The law says you cannot be asked to pay any kind of fee to a debt collector to opt out.
If a debt collector asks you to pay to opt out or harasses you in any other way, you may have a case against the collection agency.
How Long Does it Take for an Opt-Out Notice to Take Effect?
The CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule doesn’t specify how long a debt collector has to process opt-out requests. But if a debt collector communicates with a consumer after receiving an opt-out request, they may be violating the law.
The attorneys at Lemberg Law have many years of experience fighting debt buyers and other debt collectors. Are your rights being violated? If you think they are, call us at 475-277-1600 to set up a free consultation. Alternatively, you can use our contact form.
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