CFPB extends comment deadline on debt collection proposal until Sept. 18

The deadline for public comments on proposed revisions to Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) regulations has been extended to Sept. 18, according to a Federal Register notice filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The proposed amendments were issued in May for a 90-day comment period set to end Aug. 19. The bureau received requests for an extension (60-day and 90-day extensions were requested) and settled on a 30-day extension, taking the end of the comment period to Sept. 18.

The proposed rule would prescribe federal rules governing the activities of debt collectors, as that term is defined in the FDCPA. Specifically, the proposed revisions would:

  • Define a new term – “limited-content message” – related to debt collection communications. This definition would identify what information a debt collector must and may include in a message left for consumers (with the inclusion of no other information permitted) for the message to be deemed not to be a communication under the FDCPA. This definition would permit a debt collector to leave a message for a consumer without communicating, as defined by the FDCPA, with a person other than the consumer.
  • Clarify the times and places at which a debt collector may communicate with a consumer, including by clarifying that a consumer need not use specific words to assert that a time or place is inconvenient for debt collection communications.
  • Clarify that a consumer may restrict the media through which a debt collector communicates by designating a particular medium, such as email, as one that cannot be used for debt collection communications.
  • Clarify that, subject to certain exceptions, a debt collector is prohibited from placing a telephone call to a person more than seven times within a seven-day period or within seven days after engaging in a telephone conversation with the person.
  • Clarify that newer communication technologies, such as emails and text messages, may be used in debt collection, with certain limitations to protect consumer privacy and to prevent harassment or abuse, false or misleading representations, or unfair practices.

Regarding that last clarification, the CFPB proposes to require that a debt collector’s emails and text messages include instructions for a consumer to opt out of receiving further emails or text messages. It also proposes procedures that a debt collector could follow to avoid liability for unintentional violations of the prohibition against third-party disclosures when communicating with a consumer by email or text message.

Reg lookup: Debt Collection Practices (Regulation F)