FDCPA Electronic Comm FAQ 1 – Does the Debt Collection Rule require debt collectors to communicate electronically with consumers?

Compliance > FDCPA
Q:  Does the Debt Collection Rule require debt collectors to communicate electronically with consumers?
 
A:   (UPDATED 7/27/2022)
 
No. Nothing in the Debt Collection Rule requires a debt collector to communicate with consumers electronically. For example, absent additional facts, if a consumer sends a debt collector a text message, nothing in the Debt Collection Rule requires the debt collector to reply with a text message.

If a debt collector chooses to communicate with consumers electronically there are a number of provisions in the Debt Collection Rule that apply. The following is a non-exhaustive list of provisions that apply to electronic communications with consumers that debt collectors should consider before communicating electronically about a debt:
 
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s general prohibition against harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct. See generally 12 CFR § 1006.14(a), Debt Collection Call Frequency Question 1, and Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s general prohibition against deception, specifically if a debt collector sends private messages using social media without identifying himself or herself as a debt collector. See generally 12 CFR § 1006.18(d) and Section 8.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
     
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s prohibition on using an employer-provided email address. See generally 12 CFR § 1006.22(f)(3) and Section 9.6 of the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
     
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s prohibition contacting persons through a social media platform if the communication or attempt to communicate is viewable by the general public or the person’s social media contacts. See generally 12 CFR § 1006.22(f)(4) and Section 9.7 of the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
     
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s prohibition on communicating or attempting to communicate with consumers at unusual or inconvenient times or places. See generally 12 CFR § 1006.6(b)(1), Debt Collection Unusual or Inconvenient Times or Places Questions 1-3, and Section 4.1 of the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s requirements regarding consumer cease communication requests. See generally 12 CFR §§ 1006.6(c)(1) and 14(h)(1), as well as Section 4.5 and 7.2 of the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
     
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s requirements regarding opt-out notice requirements for electronic communications. See generally 12 CFR § 1006.6(e), Debt Collection Electronic Communication: Opt-Out Notice Questions 1-3, and Section 5 of the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
     
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s required disclosures in initial communication and subsequent communications with a consumer that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. See generally 12 CFR § 1006.18(e) and Section 11 of the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.
     
  • The Debt Collection Rule’s general prohibition against third-party communications. For more information, see 12 CFR § 1006.6(d)(1)-(3) and Section 6.2 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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