What is a Limited-Content Message?

A limited-content message is defined under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2021 Debt Collection Rule. It is a voicemail message that contains specific information that has to be included. It may also contain other content, but this is optional and limited to additional specifications.

Limited-content messages are not regarded as “communications” in terms of legal requirements and prohibitions. But they must meet the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule that clarifies certain provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). To do this, information specified in the Rule must be included. Optional information is also specified. Anything not specified may not be included.

What is an Limited-Content Message?

The CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule Small Entity Compliance Guide  explains that the term limited-content message “is an attempt to communicate but is not a communication for purposes of the Rule.” It refers specifically to voicemail messages.

Voicemail messages only qualify as a limited-content message if they are sent to the consumer who owes the debt. If a debt collector knowingly sends a message to a friend or family member of this person, it is not a limited-content message.

And if anything that is not specified in terms of required or optional information is included in the voicemail, it isn’t a limited content message either.

A limited-content message is not regarded as an initial or subsequent communication. This means that disclosures are not needed in these communications. Disclosures include revealing that the person making contact is a debt collector. They must also state that any information acquired via the communication may be used to collect the debt.

Communications, on the other hand, convey information about the debt.

Because limited-content messages are not communications, they aren’t subject to prohibition on communications with third parties. This means that even if a third party overhears a limited-content message, the debt collector isn’t guilty of violating the prohibition on third-party communications in the FDCPA.

What Information Must Limited-Content Messages Include?

The Debt Collection Rule specifies that debt collectors must include:

  • A business name that doesn’t reveal that the person who called is a debt collector. This is largely to prevent people from using information for research.
  • A telephone/cellular number that you can reply to.
  • A request for the person contacted to reply.
  • The names of the people you can reply to.

If it is intended to be a limited-content message but doesn’t include the mandatory content, the message may be regarded as a communication.

If a call drops and becomes a partial message that doesn’t have all the content, it won’t necessarily become a communication under the Rule.

What Additional Information May be Included in Limited-Content Messages?

While limited-content messages may include information other than that which is specified, the optional content is limited. This means that only specified optional content may be included in the message. This is limited to:

  • A salutation, which would usually be something like Dear [consumer name], Hello, or Hi, both of which might also include the consumer’s name.
  • The date and time the message is sent.
  • Suggested dates and times, or a timeframe, for the consumer to reply.
  • A suggestion that the consumer being called may speak to any of the company’s representatives.

If a voicemail contains any content other than that specified above, both required and optional, it might be deemed to be a communication rather than a limited-content message.

How Can Debt Collectors Send Limited-Content Messages?

Limited-content messages are strictly limited to voicemail messages. But they don’t need to be live voicemail messages. A debt collector may use a pre-recorded voicemail message to deliver a limited-content message.

Text messages sent from mobile phones do not qualify as limited-content messages even if the content meets the requirements of the Rule.

When debt collectors send a legal communication to a consumer, any medium is allowed. This includes written and oral messages, as well as messages delivered by telephone, mail, as audio recordings, in the form of paper documents, email or text messages, and messages sent using electronic and social media.

What Can I Do if a Debt Collector Violates the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule?

Lemberg Law has a team of attorneys that protect consumers from abusive debt collectors. If you are dealing with an individual or company that has violated the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule or any other part of the FDCPA, you could have a case against them.

You can call us on 844-685-9200 and set up a free, no-cost, no-obligation consultation or submit the online form.

Have questions? Call us now at 475-277-1600 for a Free Case Evaluation.

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