On October 30, the CFPB issued a final rule regarding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The rule restates and clarifies the FDCPA’s prohibitions on harassment and abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices by debt collectors when communicating with consumers to collect consumer debt, including via text and email. The rule also addresses disputes and record retention, among other topics. Notably, the rule prohibits a debt collector from calling a consumer, in connection with the collection of a particular debt, more than seven times in seven consecutive days or in seven consecutive days of having had a telephone conversation with the consumer about the debt. Debt collectors who communicate with a consumer electronically must, through the same means of electronic communication, accept from the consumer a cease communication request or notification that the consumer refuses to pay the debt. Additionally, those debt collectors communicating with consumers electronically must offer consumers a reasonable and simple method to opt out of electronic communications at a specific email address or telephone number. The CFPB also confirmed that the FDCPA’s prohibition on harassing, oppressive or abusive conduct applies to telephone calls, text, email and other communication media.
The CFPB did not finalize the proposed safe harbor for debt collectors against claims that a lawyer falsely represented his or her involvement in the preparation of a litigation submission. The CFPB plans to issue another debt collection final rule focused on consumer disclosures in December 2020.