CFPB Issues "Almost" Final Debt Collection Rules Effective November 2021

  • Written by Steel Rose

For the first time in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s (FDCPA) 42 year history, a regulatory agency issued rules under the statute. The long awatied CFPB rulemaking focuses on debt collection communications. It gives consumers more control over how often and through what means debt collectors may communicate with them. Called the final rule,although another "final" rule will be released in December, the rule alsoclarifies how debt collectors may contact consumers by phone, email, text message, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The rule does not apply to first-party debt collectors who are not covered by the FDCPA.

The rule takes effect in November, 2021 and will limit only seven debt-collection phone calls per week, and an undefined number of text, email messages and social media private posts. The messages must provide clear instructions about how to opt out from receiving each message. The new nationwide cap on the number of communication attempts on the phone limits calling about a particular debt more than seven times within seven consecutive days or within seven consecutive days of having had a telephone conversation.

Limited content voicemails must include the business name stating they are in the debt collection business; and the names of natural persons and their phone numbers with whom the consumer may contact in reply to the requested reply.

A safe harbor for debt collectors from civil liability “for an unintentional third-party disclosure if the debt collector follows the procedures identified in the rule when communicating with a consumer by email or text message is ncluded in the October final rule. Not included is a safe harbor for debt collectors against claims an attorney falsely represented the attorney’s involvement in the preparation of a litigation submission.

A second “disclosure-focused” final rule will be released in December 2020. The December final rule is expected to address the model debt validation notice and time-barred debt disclosures.