On May 7, 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or the “Bureau”) released its long-anticipated proposed rule on debt collection. The proposed rule would amend Regulation F, which implements the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), and would govern the activities of debt collectors, as defined in the FDCPA. Certain provisions also rely on the Bureau’s authority under sections 1031 and 1036 of the Dodd-Frank Act to regulate unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger described the Bureau’s action as an effort to “modernize the legal regime for debt collection” and “ensure we have clear rules of the road where consumers know their rights and debt collectors know their limitations.”
The proposed rule generally would:
- Limit debt collectors to no more than seven attempts by telephone per week to reach a consumer about a specific debt;
- Require debt collectors to send consumers a disclosure with certain information about the debt and related consumer protections within five days of the initial communication, including an itemization of the debt and plain-language information about how a consumer may respond to a collection attempt along with a “tear-off” that consumers could use to respond to the collection attempt;
- Clarify how debt collectors may use newer technologies that have developed since the FDCPA was enacted in 1977, such as voicemails, emails and text messages, to communicate with consumers, including time and place restrictions, and how consumers can limit the media for debt collector communications;
- Clarify how collectors may provide required disclosures electronically;
- Prohibit a debt collector from suing or threatening to sue a consumer to collect a time-barred debt;
- Clarify a debt collector’s ability to communicate with the personal representative of a deceased consumer;
- Prohibit a debt collector from furnishing information about a debt to a consumer reporting agency unless the debt collector has communicated with the consumer about the debt; and
- Prohibit sales, transfers, or placement for collection if a debt collector knows or should know that the debt has been discharged in bankruptcy or is the subject of an identity theft report.
The comment period ends 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. The proposed effective date of the final rule would be one year after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.