Two things that have changed the way a debt collector can communicate with you:
Debt collectors can now send unsolicited emails, texts and social media messages. You can opt-out of any or all of these channels of communication.
A debt collector can now “friend” you on social media. They have to, however, identify themselves as a debt collector and disclose their intent if the purpose of friending you is ultimately to use that platform and direct connection to send direct messages in pursuit of debt.
While debt collectors were not previously banned from contacting consumers over text or on social media, the revised rules are intended to provide “clear rules of the road” now and in the future, the CFPB said.
Dealing with debt collectors can be a trying time for the nearly 70 million Americans who are estimated to have a debt in collection. That staggering number translates to nearly one in three adults with a credit report being pursued during the pandemic, according to analysis from the Urban Institute.
Even those with no credit worries need to beware. Scammers are already using unsolicited electronic communications to perpetrate fraud, using debt collection as a pretext. Allowing debt collectors to email, text and use social media to contact consumers gives criminals a new avenue to try to scam people into paying them money on alleged debts.
Debt Collection Final Rule
The final rule explains the information that a debt collector must provide to a consumer at the beginning of debt collection communications and provides clarification covering such information, prohibits debt collectors from bringing or threatening to bring a legal action against a consumer to collect a time-barred debt, and requires debt collectors to take certain actions before furnishing information about a consumer’s debt to a consumer reporting agency.
HELPFUL LINK: https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_debt-collection_final-rule_2020-12.pdf
Coverage and Organization of the Final Rule
The final rule is based primarily on the Bureau’s authority to issue rules to implement the FDCPA and, consequently, covers debt collectors, as that term is defined in the FDCPA. As revised in the November 2020 Final Rule, Regulation F contains four subparts.
Subpart A contains generally applicable provisions, such as definitions that apply throughout the regulation. Subpart B contains rules for FDCPA debt collectors. Subpart C is reserved for any future debt collection rule makings. Subpart D contains certain miscellaneous provisions. This final rule adds additional provisions in subparts A, B, and D.
Scope of the Final Rule FDCPA section 809(a) requires that a debt collector send a written notice containing certain information about the debt and actions the consumer may take in response (the validation notice) to a consumer within five days of the initial communication, unless such validation information was provided in the initial communication, or the consumer has paid the debt.
The final rule clarifies the information about the debt and the consumer’s rights with respect to the debt that a debt collector must provide to a consumer at the outset of debt collection communications, including (if applicable) on a validation notice.
Safe Harbor for Consumers
The final rule also requires a debt collector to provide prompts that a consumer can use to dispute the debt, request information about the original creditor or take certain other actions.
The final rule provides a safe harbor for compliance with these disclosure requirements for debt collectors who use the model validation notice BELOW or certain variations of the notice.