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Breaking News

6 Hunstein Cases Dismissed: TransUnion Casts Significant Doubt on Viability…

Steel Rose

"the Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion casts significant doubt on the continued viability of Hunstein," according to the Judge Gary Brown, United States District Judge for the EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. The Memorandum and Order of the District Court also declares: "First, in TransUnion, the Supreme Court held that the...


The Bottom Line

Product Spotlight

CSS Product Spotlight

Henry Gardner

CSS, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise class accounts receivable management and financial software offers a broad portfolio of platforms & solutions. CSS enables companies to transition their legacy revenue & payment management systems to a modern, cognitive, centralized, cloud-based Financial Ecosystem®. CSS may be utilized to provide business financial...


Skip Tracing Advisor

Developing a Network of Closed Sources by Ron Brown, Skip Tr…

Ron Brown

As we begin this article it is very important that the professional tracer clearly understand what constitutes a “CLOSED SOURCE”, the value of a closed source network and the obligation due to each closed source. Definition: CLOSED SOURCE… sources of information with restricted access and information available only through mutual information...


Collection Software Roundtables

Shielding Collectors From TCPA and FDCPA Violations

Joshua Fluegel

The demands of regulators lead collection professionals to collect debt with the credo of “as little contact with the consumer as possible.” Every eliminated encounter with a consumer while the payment is still being collected is one less chance for a TCPA or FDCPA violation. For this reason many accounts...


Feature Stories

Hunstein on Rehearing – Revisiting Article III Standing in t…

Eve Cann and Jonathan Green

On April 21, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Richard Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc., and potentially created a new claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – ruling that a debt collector's sharing of information with a vendor is a violation...


Collection Agency Advisor

The Secret to Excelling in Profit AND Performance

Gordon C. Beck III

To each their own. That’s what I keep telling myself when discussing with my competitors what their strategy is to run and operate a successful collection agency. Everyone’s outlook is different, but the same. Sure, everyone wants to be a top agency, that’s what everyone is supposed to say. But...


Legal Collection Advisor

Executive Orders Impacting Collections

Michael Starzec

No, this is not a review of the 1996 thriller starring Kurt Russell, Halle Berry and Steven Seagal but it does focus on the prestige of the word “Executive.”   At hotels and sports arenas, you want the executive suite. In Illinois, at least a 1,000 corporations integrate “executive” into their...


Collection Industry Advisor

3 Options to Offer During Tax Season

Nick Jarman

When it comes to collecting debt, tax season is without argument the most profitable season of the year. Tax season starts at the beginning of February and wraps up in early May. February generally sees the highest return and slightly tapers off each month thereafter. One issue that can ease...


Compliance Advisor

PCI Compliance, SOC, and HITRUST

Debra J. Ciskey

With the June, 2019, disclosure of a data breach at AMCA looming large in the rearview mirror, debt collectors both large and small are scrambling to verify the security of their consumer portals and their consumer information in general. With numerous vendors and auditors serving the industry in this key...


Dissecting the New World of Text and Email

  • Written by Michael L. Starzec

starzec michaelWhen my wife and I were in California, she insisted on taking a picture next to the sign outside Facebook’s HQ, a sign bearing the ubiquitous “Like” icon. There, I noticed that the reverse side of the sign bore the logo of Sun Microsystems. This confounded me. Is Zuckerberg that cheap? However, Zuckerberg purposefully did this when they took over Sun’s campus to remind employees what happens if you fail to innovate. In 1998, Sun was on top of the world. Two years later, Microsoft, Intel and Linux caught up with Sun and offered their comparative products at a cheaper price. Ten years later, the company that had called itself “the dot in .com” ceased even to be a dot on the map.

The same holds true in our industry: The FDCPA remained stuck in the 1970s, lacking only bellbottoms, pet rocks and a Bee Gees album to complete the look. Then, on May 22, 2019, the CFPB proposed rulemaking to finally address the 21st century.

Recognizing communication technology evolution has led to a consumer preference for email, texts or web portal communication, the CFPB proposed rules for the new communication modes. First is a “limited content message” that will not qualify as a communication under the FDCPA, so long as it does not communicate certain specific pieces of information that can be texted or emailed. Second, Cease and Desist requests will be specific to the form of communication. For example, a consumer can designate emails as their preferred communication means and limit all others. Third, the rules will allow use of emails and texts in debt collection, with certain limits, such as inclusion of instructions to opt-out of receiving emails or texts. Finally, the rules would set out procedures to protect debt collectors from liability for unintentional third-party communication when using emails or texts.

The proposed rules will allow the transmittal of required correspondences via email or text. In addition to a safe harbor initial demand letter form, a debt collector will be able to send that initial demand electronically. If sent in that manner, the Bureau will set forth requirements and allowances for debt collectors to provide prompts within the communication for disputes, validation and other features. Hence, the consumer could click on a link in your demand letter to dispute the debt, cease and desist or make a payment. To further protect debt collectors, the Bureau would create a model validation notice, clarify how to validate debts electronically and a safe harbor if the debt collector complies with certain steps when delivering validation notices within the body of an email, if that is the initial communication.

When Netscape Navigator was deemed David to Microsoft’s Goliath, Bill Gates is claimed to have said they had to “innovate or die.” That is no different here. The CFPB is proposing these rules and on their face, the changes are refreshing, they seek to balance the overreaching of the former CFPB chair and allow for our input. Now, given the relative fairness of the proposal, we could sit back and let the process play out. However, it is important that we stop being reactive and be part of the change. I can guarantee that our friends on the consumer side will loudly proclaim these proposed rules are bad for consumers. As we know, they really mean that the rules will be bad for business. This is a chance not simply to modernize communication but create black and white standards to protect us against the endless lawsuits that feast on the gray areas of the FDCPA. Let your voice be heard, whether on your own or through a national organization. Shape the future, don’t be shaped by it.

Michael L. Starzec is a partner with Blitt and Gaines, P.C and is vicepresident of the Illinois Creditors Bar. He is a frequent speaker, writer and litigator on creditor’s rights.