The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has finalized revisions to the Fair Debt Collection Protection Act (FDCPA), which lays out the rules that debt collectors must follow. With the implementation of these new rules, consumers will get more control over how collectors communicate with them and collectors face new restrictions on how they collect debts.
The rules apply to each individual debt you have in collections with a third party. If you’re being contacted by the original creditor (bank, credit card company, other lenders) directly, these rules don’t apply to them.
These new rules take effect on November 30, 2021. Here are the most notable changes:
- Frequency: Collectors can’t call more than seven times within seven consecutive days after having had a telephone conversation with the person in connection of the debt. There are three exclusions:
- Calls for which you gave prior consent
- Calls that don’t connect
- Calls placed to specific professionals, like your attorney
- You can ask collectors to stop calling and they have to comply
- Voicemail: Collectors can only leave limited-content messages. They are limited to collection agency business name, a request that you call them and contact information for the agency.
Text Messages and Emails
- A collector is permitted to send you electronic messages including texts and emails. Each of these messages must:
- Include instructions for a consumer to opt out of receiving those types of messages
- Be sent at a reasonable time similar to the 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. limitation for phone calls
- Emails sent to a work address: In most cases, collectors are prohibited from sending messages to an email address they know is used for business
Social Media Messages
- A collector can send you private messages, but can’t post anything that your followers, friends or the public can view. There must be opt-out instructions attached to each message.
Collection of Time-Barred Debts
- A collector can’t bring or threaten to bring legal action against a consumer to collect debts that have passed the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations bars creditors from suing for unpaid debts after a certain period of time.
If a collector doesn’t follow the guidelines you’ve given them or otherwise harasses you, you can notify the CFPB, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s attorney general’s office.
For more information please read the CFPB press release announcing the changes.