Q: Does the debt collection rule limit the frequency of telephone calls a debt collector can place, or telephone conversations a debt collector may have, about a debt?
A: The Debt Collection Rule does not impose a specific “limit” or “cap” on the frequency of telephone calls that a debt collector may place or conversations that a debt collector may have about a debt. Instead, the Rule establishes a presumption of a violation of, and a presumption of compliance with, the prohibition against harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct, based on the frequency of a debt collector’s telephone calls and conversations. These presumptions are discussed in Debt Collection Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1
In general, under the Debt Collection Rule, a debt collector must not engage in conduct in connection with the collection of a debt if the natural consequence of that conduct is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person. 12 CFR § 1006.14(a). In addition to this general prohibition, the Debt Collection Rule specifically prohibits a debt collector from placing telephone calls or engaging any person in telephone conversations repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(1). This specific prohibition related to telephone calls and telephone conversations will be referred to as “the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations” throughout these FAQs.
A debt collector who complies with the specific prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations complies with the general prohibition against engaging in conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person solely with respect to the frequency of the debt collector’s telephone calls. A debt collector nevertheless could violate the general prohibition if the natural consequence of another aspect of the debt collector’s telephone calls, unrelated to frequency, is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Comment 14(b)(1)-1.
Updated October 1, 2021