CFPB FDCPA – What messages are not limited-content messages?

Compliance > FDCPA
Q:   What messages are not limited-content messages?
 
A:   A message other than a voicemail message, such as a text message sent to a mobile phone, is not a limited-content message, even if it meets the content requirements for a limited-content message. 12 CFR 1006.2(j).
 
A message knowingly left for anyone other than the consumer obligated or allegedly obligated to pay the debt is not a limited-content message. For example, a voicemail message left after calling a telephone number that the debt collector knows belongs to the consumer’s friend is not a limited-content message, even if the message includes no more than the required and permitted (i.e., optional) content. Comment 1006.2(j)-2.
 
Examples:
 
ABC, Inc. places a telephone call to a consumer. The consumer does not answer, and the caller leaves a voicemail message stating: “This is Robin Smith calling from ABC, Inc. Please contact me or Jim Johnson at 1-800-555-1212.” The caller left a limited-content message that includes only the required content. The message is not a communication but is an attempt to communicate. Alternatively, the caller could have left a voicemail message that included required and permitted content, such as: “Hi, this is Robin Smith calling from ABC, Inc. It is 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, September 1. Please contact me or any of our representatives at 1-800-555-1212 until 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, or any weekday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern time.”  This limited-content message is not a communication but is an attempt to communicate.

Ficus Debt Collection Services places a telephone call to a consumer. The consumer does not answer, and the caller leaves a voicemail message stating: “This is Robin Smith calling from Ficus Debt Collection Services. Please contact me or Jim Johnson at 1-800-555-1212.” Because the message includes a business name that indicates that the caller is in the business of collecting debt, the message is not a limited-content
message
.
 
Ficus Debt Collection Services places a telephone call to a consumer. The consumer does not answer, and the caller leaves a voicemail message stating: “This is Robin Smith calling from Ficus. I’m calling for Amy Jones regarding the overdue payment on your student loan. Please contact me or Jim Johnson at 1-800-555-1212.” Because the caller stated that the call was regarding the overdue payment on the consumer’s student loan, which is not required or permitted content, the message is not a limited content message.
 
ABC, Inc. is attempting to acquire location information about a consumer obligated on a debt and calls a telephone number that ABC, Inc. knows does not belong to that consumer. No one answers the telephone, and the caller leaves a voicemail message with only the required content for a limited-content message. Because the caller is knowingly leaving a message for someone other than the consumer who is obligated on the debt, the message is not a limited-content message regardless of the content of the message.
 
 
 
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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