Q: Is a debt collector required to use their legal or registered Doing Business As (DBA) name in a limited-content message?
A: No. The Debt Collection Rule does not require the business name in a limited-content message to be the debt collector’s legal name or registered DBA.
As discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 1
, in order for a voicemail message to be a limited-content message under the Debt Collection Rule, the voicemail must contain certain required content, including a business name for the debt collector that does not indicate that the caller is in the business of collecting debts. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j)(1). The Debt Collection Rule does not change existing case law regarding whether or what names indicate or do not indicate that a debt collector is in the debt collection business. For example, if a debt collector could properly use the business name on an envelope without violating the FDCPA or the Debt Collection Rule, the debt collector could use the same business name in a limited-content message. 12 CFR § 1006.22(f)(2). Further, as discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 1
, leaving a limited-content message does not violate the requirement to meaningfully disclose the caller’s identity with respect to that voicemail message, even though that message may contain abbreviations or may not include the debt collector’s full legal name. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j) and Comment 2(j)-3.
State licensing or other laws, however, may require a debt collector to use their registered DBA when leaving messages for consumers. If a debt collector’s registered DBA indicates that the debt collector is in the business of debt collection, and if, pursuant to a State licensing or other legal requirement, the debt collector is required to use its registered DBA in a voicemail for a consumer, the voicemail would not be a limited-content message. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j)(1). In that case, because, under the Debt Collection Rule, a limited-content message must contain a business name and the business name must not indicate the caller is in the business of collecting debts, the debt collector would not be able to leave limited-content messages that comply with State law. Additionally, a debt collector must also comply with all other applicable provisions of the Debt Collection Rule when disclosing their business name in a limited-content message, such as the prohibition against using false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means in connection with the collection of any debt. 12 CFR § 1006.18(a). For more information about the prohibition against false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means, see Section 8 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide
Updated October 1, 2021