By: Dean A. Langdon
One of the federal laws that exists to protect consumers is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “FDCPA”). The FDCPA covers third-party debt collectors who are in the business of collecting consumer debts and generally prohibits harassing, misleading, abusive or false efforts to collect debts. The FDCPA does not attempt to identify every prohibited act but does identify some prohibited practices such as adding unauthorized charges, using a postcard or envelope which reflects it is from a debt collector, or depositing a post-dated check early. In addition, and there are many, many court cases interpreting whether particular conduct by a debt collector is a violation of the FDCPA.
Compliance with the FDCPA is overseen by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has much more information about the FDCPA and dealing with debt collectors on its website.
There are new rules which went into effect on November 30, 2021 which relate to how, and how often, debt collectors can contact consumers by telephone. One of the new rules creates a “limited-content message” – essentially a voice message. It must include a business name, an individual’s name and phone number, and a request to respond, but cannot use a business name which would disclose it is a debt collection. Limited-content messages apparently were created to give debt collectors a safe way to try and reach consumers without violating the FDCPA prohibition against communicating with third parties about collecting a consumer debt.
If you are being contacted by a debt collector, you know that the calls seem almost perpetual. Another change created by the new rules relates to how often a debt collector can call. Once the new rules go into effect, there will be a presumption that the FDCPA has been violated if a collector calls more than seven times in seven consecutive days or calls within seven days after a consumer has spoken with the debt collector about a debt. If the consumer initiates the call, it doesn’t count towards the limit, and text messages or emails don’t count. However, the “limited-content messages” mentioned above do count towards the call limits.
While there are more details in the rules about exceptions, giving consent, etc., these new rules offer consumers some additional protection against overzealous debt collectors and some clear guidance that debt collectors can follow. Remember, simply being unable to repay your debts doesn’t mean you lose your rights.
About DelCotto Law Group
DelCotto Law Group is Kentucky’s asset preservation and business restructuring law firm known for its commitment to the lifetime success of its clients. With offices located in Lexington, Louisville and Danville, DLG serves Kentuckians with complicated financial matters, especially in the areas of bankruptcy and complex litigation. For more information please call (859) 231-5800, email [email protected] or reach us on our contact page.