FDCPA Electronic Comm Opt Out FAQ 1 – Under the Debt Collection Rule, can a person limit debt collector communications?

Compliance > FDCPA
Q:  Under the Debt Collection Rule, can a person limit debt collector communications?
 
A:   (UPDATED 7/27/2022)
 
Yes, under the Debt Collection Rule, if a person requests that a debt collector not use a specific method of communication or communication media in connection with the collection of a debt, a debt collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a person through that requested method or medium. 12 CFR § 1006.14(h)(1).

For example, if a person tells a debt collector to “stop calling,” the person has requested that the debt collector not use telephone calls to communicate with that person, and the debt collector is prohibited from communicating or attempting to communicate with the person through telephone calls. Similarly, if a person tells a debt collector to “stop emailing me,” the person has requested that the debt collector not use email to communicate with the person. Comment 14(h)(1)-3.i. The debt collector may ask follow-up questions regarding preferred communication media to clarify a person’s statements. Comment 14(h)(1)-1.
 
Within a medium of communication, a person may request that a debt collector not use a specific email address or telephone number. For example, if a person has two mobile telephone numbers, the person may request that the debt collector not use one or both mobile telephone numbers. Comment 14(h)(1)-2. Similarly, if a consumer opts out of receiving emails at a particular email address or text messages at a particular telephone number, the consumer has requested that the debt collector not use that email address or telephone number to electronically communicate with the consumer. Comment 14(h)(1)- 3.ii.

If a person opts out of receiving electronic communications from a debt collector, the debt collector may send an electronic confirmation of the person’s request to opt out, provided that the electronic confirmation contains no information other than a statement confirming the person’s request and the debt collector’s intent to honor the person’s request. 12 CFR § 1006.14(h)(2)(i). Any other communications or attempts to communicate sent to that particular email address or telephone number after the consumer opts out violate the Debt Collection Rule’s prohibition on harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct, unless an exception applies or it is otherwise required by applicable law. 12 CFR § 1006.14(h)(1) and 14(h)(2)(iii). However, if a person initiates contact with a debt collector using a medium of communication that the person previously requested the debt collector not use, the debt collector may respond once through the same medium of communication used by the person. 12 CFR § 1006.14(h)(2)(ii).

For more information on the Debt Collection Rule’s opt-out notice requirements, see Debt Collection Electronic Communication: Opt-out Notice Questions 2 and 3 and Section 5 of the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information on prohibited communication media and consumer requests to cease communication through certain media, see Section 7.2 of 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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