CFPB FDCPA – Who is a “debt collector?”

Compliance > FDCPA
Q:   Who is a “debt collector?”
A:   The Debt Collection Rule applies to debt collectors. 12 CFR 1006.1(c). Unless an exemption or exclusion in the Rule applies, a person (i.e., natural person, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, or joint stock company) is a “debt collector” for purposes of the Rule if that person does one or both of the following:
  • Uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or mail in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of debts. This prong of the definition of debt collector is sometimes called the “principal purpose” prong.
  • Regularly collects or attempts to collect (directly or indirectly) debts owed or due to another person or asserted to be owed or due to another person. This prong of the definition of debt collector is sometimes called the “regularly collects” prong.
12 CFR 1006.2(i)(1).
Even if a person satisfies the principal purpose prong or the regularly collects prong (or both), the person is not a debt collector for purposes of the Debt Collection Rule if that person also satisfies one or more of the exclusions discussed in Section 3.1.1 of the small entity compliance guide.

Additionally, if a state has applied for and been granted an exemption for a class of debt collection practices (as discussed  in Section 3.1.2), then those practices in that state may be exempt from the relevant FDCPA and Rule provisions.
NOTE:  However, the term debt collector includes any creditor that, in the process of collecting its own debts, uses any name other than its own that would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to collect such debts. 12 CFR 1006.2(i)(1)
This Q&A was created based on information from the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule Small Entity Compliance Guide - April 2021 (which may be updated from time to time).  This may be found on the CFPB’s website here:

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