FDCPA Unusual or Inconvenient FAQ 1 – Does the debt collection rule limit where or when a debt collector can communicate or attempt to communicate with a consumer about a debt?

Compliance > FDCPA
Q:  Does the debt collection rule limit where or when a debt collector can communicate or attempt to communicate with a consumer about a debt?
 
A:   (UPDATED 7/27/2022)
 
Yes. Unless one or more of the exceptions discussed in Debt Collection Unusual or Inconvenient Times or Places Question 5 applies, a debt collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt:

1. At any unusual time or at a time that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer.
2. At any unusual place or at a place that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer.

This prohibition will be referred to as “the prohibition on communicating at an unusual or inconvenient time or place” throughout these FAQs.

A debt collector knows or should know that a time or place is inconvenient to a consumer if the consumer describes the time or place using the word “inconvenient.” In addition, depending on the facts and circumstances, it is possible that a debt collector knows or should know that a time or place is inconvenient even if the consumer does not describe a time or place using the word “inconvenient.” For example, a consumer might indicate that he or she should not be disturbed or cannot talk to the debt collector at certain times or places. Comment 6(b)(1)-1. However, the Debt Collection Rule does not require a debt collector to construe a consumer’s statement that the consumer is “busy” or “cannot talk right now” (without anything further) to mean that the consumer is generally designating a time or place as inconvenient for future communications. Such a statement would indicate that the time or place is inconvenient for the current communication or attempt to communicate. A debt collector may ask follow-up questions to clarify statements by the consumer in order to determine if a future communication or attempt to communicate would be at a time or place that is inconvenient to a consumer. For example, if a consumer asks a debt collector not to contact the consumer “at home,” the debt collector may ask whether the consumer intends to prohibit the debt collector from communicating through all media associated with the consumer’s home, including mail. Comment 6(b)(1)-1.iii.
 
For more information on the prohibition on communicating at unusual or inconvenient times or places, see Debt Collection Unusual or Inconvenient Times or Places Questions 2 and 3 and Section 4.1 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information on the exception to this prohibition, see Debt Collection Unusual or Inconvenient Times or Places Question 5 and Section 4.4 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
 
 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
This Q&A was created based on information from CFPB’s website (which may be updated from time to time) that provides Debt Collection Rule FAQs.  This information may be found on CFPB’s website here:  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/compliance/compliance-resources/other-applicable-requirements/debt-collection/debt-collection-rule-faqs/#validation-information
 

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