18 Nov Fact or Misconception: Does the FDCPA restrict debt collection?
Keeping track of the rules and regulations when catering to debt collection can become exhausting and oftentimes challenging. This is primarily because new guidance and cases come forth which led to law amendments or creations. This impacts creditors and debt collection organizations.
There are some misconceptions regarding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) amongst laymen. These regulations are kept in place to manage smooth debt collections and maintain the conduct of the creditors approaching the debtors. Let’s have a glance at some misconceptions regarding the FDCPA.
Debtors are not protected from harassment.
Under 15 USC 1692d, the FDCPA states harassment of consumers is unlawful. The debt collector may reach out to the debtor through various communicational means, however, they are not allowed to harass them under any circumstance. Regulation F states that harassment can take place through various communicative channels. While commenting on it, it states that ‘’the cumulative effect of all communications may constitute a violation of the harassment provision.’’
Cell phone providers offer assistance with built-in settings for their consumers to particularly deal with individuals or organizations that invade boundaries. These service providers make policies that block off actors who would harass their consumers. The collection agencies who would harass debtors through email would eventually have less than 5% of their emails delivered. The providers would bar them from reaching their destination addresses. The debtor has the facility to unsubscribe, flag, or put in spam if they come across an abusive email, according to the FDCPA.
Similarly, all digital platforms have policies to ensure their consumers have facilities to report if they are harassed or abused through any means. However, there is no such option for the consumer for incoming calls or letters.
Debt collection regulations are solely monitored by federal laws
States and cities can and have been implementing their laws concerning debt collection. There have been personalized additions in the regulations which are not covered in the federal laws or FDCPA. For example, Washington DC introduced new and improved debt collection regulations regarding calls, emails, and other communicative methods. These laws will be implemented from the 1st of January 2023 onwards.
Aside from state laws, other rules may be applicable despite not being associated with any industry. Mostly these regulations are regarding consumer privacy and security practices.
The first interaction must be a letter to the debtor
The FDCPA clearly states that the collection agency must provide the validation notice during their first interaction with the debtor. This could be in writing or through other means like email as stated in Regulation F. Once done with this task, the debt collector has completed their obligation and may proceed with collection efforts. The validation notice is to be done in writing only if it wasn’t covered during the initial interaction.
For further assistance, the CFPB has provided a model email that can be adopted and sent out to debtors. The provision of adding hyperlinks to emails, makes the notice more extensive, a service that cannot be availed through the mail.
Digital Debt Collection more difficult to become FDCPA compliant
When you have a solid legal team, that commits to staying updated with all the regulations regarding debt collection, digital debt collection can become an added convenience. It is a quicker medium that allows consumers to respond promptly. Moreover, it provides a record of past interactions with accurate timestamps. It also makes it easier to manage debt collection, especially for the consumer. They can respond in their time, maintaining a professional realm, and ensuring their boundaries aren’t being overstepped.
When a collection agency does transparent practice, they would find digital means of debt collection easier and hassle-free.
The FDCPA does restrict debt collection in the matter of their conduct, not their efforts. A collector has every right to approach the debtor once their debt is validated. However, there are some restrictions they have to maintain when approaching consumers. Compliance with FDCPA guidelines has become complex. This complexity will remain strong as technology evolves and grows over time. It’s best to remain within the rules and regulations set by FDCPA and the state and approach your debtor with a professional front.