Having debts in collection can be a challenge, especially when you’re harassed by debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has been in law since 1977 and there have been substantive rules regarding the collection of debts since 2010. Now there is an official guide that explains the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Debt Collection Rule (Regulation F).
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law. The Debt Collection Rule (Regulation F) was prescribed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency that is responsible for enforcing the FDCPA. It details substantive requirements and prohibitions regarding debt collection. The October 2020 Final Rule, issued by the CFPB, clarifies numerous issues relating to debt collection. These include how debt collectors can communicate with consumers as well as prohibitions on harassment and abuse. It became effective on November 30, 2021.
Guide to the Debt Collection Rule
Published in April 2021, the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule Small Entity Compliance Guide includes a detailed summary of the Rule. It implements federal law and doesn’t interpret state laws or discuss state laws that apply to debt collectors.
The guide covers the terms already defined in the FDCPA and doesn’t alter which debts and debt collectors are covered.
Issues it covers include:
- Requirements and prohibitions when communicating with consumers
- Frequency of allowable telephone calls
- Third-party communications
- Prohibition of harassment and oppressive or abusive conduct
- False, deceptive, and misleading representations
- Electronic communications opt-out notices
- Clarifications relating to newer technologies
- Debt validation notices
- Disclosure requirements
- Retention of records
Since many of the requirements and prohibitions covered in the FDCPA apply to communications, the Debt Collection Rule clarifies these. It also clarifies communication via newer technologies like calls and texts to mobile phones, email messages, and messages conveyed using social media.
The rule also adds the term, limited-content message and excludes it from the legal requirements and prohibitions of communications that debt collectors are allowed to make.
We have covered all the new guidelines in other blog posts. But here are six key issues that will help you determine how the new Debt Collection Rule will impact you.
How Often Can Debt Collectors Call Me?
A persistent problem with debt collectors has been that many call repeatedly intending to harass the consumer who owes money. But under the Debt Collection Rule, collection call frequency is limited.
They may not call more than seven days within a seven-day period. And they may not call within seven days of engaging in a telephone conversation about your debt.
The frequency of these calls only applies to telephone calls and not to text messages, emails, or other media types.
Can Debt Collectors Contact Me Through Social Media?
We all know that debt collectors have utilized social media for years. But now there are very specific rules that they need to follow.
Debt collectors must identify that they are debt collectors. They must keep all messages private. And they must provide you with a way to opt out of their social media communications.
How Are Electronic Communications Affected by the New Rule?
First of all, the Debt Collection Rule prohibits debt collectors from communicating (or attempting to communicate) with consumers at unusual or inconvenient times.
The Rule also highlights an electronic communication opt-out notice that applies to consumers who no longer wish to be contacted electronically, including on social media.
What is a Limited-Content Message?
A limited-content message relates specifically to voicemail messages. The Rule states what must be included in this type of message. It also outlines optional content.
If the message doesn’t follow the limited-content guidelines, then it may become a communication that is covered by the FDCPA.
Limited-Content messages must include a:
1. Business name that doesn’t point out that the caller is a debt collector
2. Telephone number that you can reply to
3. Request for you to reply and the name of who to contact
What is a Debt Validation Notice?
Debt validation notices confirm debts and debt collectors must provide these in writing. The Rule states what must be included in the notice. This includes the name and mailing information of the debt collector and the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. If it is available, it must also include the account number that is associated with the debt.
Debt validation notices must also contain itemized information including what is currently owed plus interest, fees, payments, and credits. This way consumers can recognize debts and verify them.
Another important inclusion is information about debt collection rights. This must tell consumers how they can dispute the debt if they believe it is not theirs
Can a Debt Collector Report My Debt to a Credit Reporting Company?
Yes. A debt collector can report your debt to a credit reporting company or credit bureau, but there are steps that they must follow.
A debt collector must first speak to you in person or by telephone about the debt. Alternatively, they must mail a letter or send electronic communication (usually an email) about the debt. In this case, they need to wait for a reasonable length of time to make sure consumers receive their message before reporting to the credit bureaus. This is usually about 14 days. Learn more on how long collections stay on your credit report or if debt collectors can threaten you with false credit reporting.
What Can You Do When a Debt Collector Violates the FDCPA?
If a debt collector or debt buyer has been hounding and harassing you, or you believe that they have violated the FDCPA, you can call Lemberg Law and ask for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation
Call 844-685-9200 or simply complete our online form. We’ll get back to you and assess your rights. You may be entitled to file suit in the federal court and could be awarded up to $1,000.