Proposed debt collection rule allows up to seven phone contacts a week with consumers

Debt collectors would be allowed up to seven telephone-contact attempts a week with consumers about a specific debt under a proposal issued by the federal consumer financial protection agency Tuesday.

In a release, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) highlighted four key points in its proposal, which would implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA); the number of telephone contacts per week led the list reported by the bureau.

Regarding the telephone contacts, the bureau also said the proposal would establish that once a phone conversation between a consumer and a debt collector takes place, the collector must wait “at least a week” before calling the consumer again.

Other key points about the proposal the bureau said – which will be open for comment for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register – include:

  • A disclosure to consumers from debt collectors is required containing certain information about the debt and “related consumer protections.” The bureau said the information could include an itemization of the debt; how a consumer may respond to a collection attempt (in “plain-language information”) including a dispute of the debt; and inclusion of a “tear-off” consumers could use to respond to the collection attempt.
  • Clarification of how debt collectors may lawfully use “newer communication technologies” such as voicemail, email and text messages. The bureau indicated the clarification would protect consumers by allowing them to unsubscribe to future communications from collectors through those media. “The proposed rule would also clarify how collectors may provide required disclosures electronically,” the agency said. “In addition, if consumers want to limit ways debt collectors contact them, for example at a specific telephone number, while they are at work, or during certain hours, the rule clarifies how consumers may easily do so.”
  • Prohibitions on a debt collector from suing or threats of lawsuits if the collector knows or should know at statute of limitations has passed. “The proposed rule also would prohibit a debt collector from furnishing information about a debt to a consumer reporting agency unless the debt collector has communicated about the debt to the consumer, such as by sending the consumer a letter,” the bureau said.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Proposes Regulations to Implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act