CFPB FDCPA – What is meant by an “attempt to communicate?”

Compliance > FDCPA
Q:   What is meant by an “attempt to communicate?”
 
A:   An “attempt to communicate” is any act to initiate a communication or other contact about a debt with any person through any medium, including by soliciting a response from such person.  12 CFR 1006.2(b). An act to initiate a communication or other contact about a debt is an attempt to communicate regardless of whether the attempt, if successful, would be a communication that conveys information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person.
Comment 1006.2(b)-1.
 
An attempt to communicate is not limited to an act to initiate a “communication,” as that term is defined in the Debt Collection Rule. It includes an act to initiate a contact that does not satisfy the definition of communication. In other words, it includes an attempt to contact a person regardless of whether the debt collector intends to convey information about a debt as long as the contact is about a debt. 
 
An attempt to communicate can be made through any medium, including in person or by telephone, audio recording, paper document, mail, email, text message, social media, or other electronic media.

An attempt to communicate includes leaving a limited-content message. 12 CFR 1006.2(b).
 
Examples:
 
ABC, Inc. places a telephone call to a consumer about a debt. No one answers the telephone, and the caller does not leave a message. Even though ABC, Inc. did not engage in a communication, it has attempted to communicate with the consumer.
 
ABC, Inc. places a telephone call to a consumer about a debt. No one answers the telephone, and the caller leaves a voicemail message that does not convey information about a debt. Even though ABC, Inc. did not engage in a communication, it has attempted to communicate with the consumer.
 
ABC, Inc. places a telephone call to a person to acquire location information about a consumer. No one answers the telephone, and the caller does not leave a message.  Even though ABC, Inc. did not engage in a communication, it has attempted to communicate with the person.
 
ABC, Inc. places a telephone call to a consumer about a debt. No one answers the telephone, and the caller leaves a voicemail message that does convey information about a debt. ABC, Inc. has engaged in a communication and has attempted to communicate with the consumer.
 
 
 
 
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:  https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_debt-collection_small-entity-compliance-guide.pdf
 

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