Reg F Resource Center

In 2020, the CFPB issued Reg F, which implements the FDCPA. Read the text of the rule, including critical CFPB interpretations; dive into articles breaking down the rule; listen to replays of ACA’s members-only Reg F Huddle series; purchase our Reg F compliance tool ACA How; and more.

Links to the Rule

CFPB Interactive Rule

CFPB Rule Part 1 (View PDF Format)

CFPB Rule Part 2 (View PDF Format)

CFPB Rule Part 1 – as Published in the Federal Register

CFPB Rule Part 2 – as Published in the Federal Register

CFPB Reg F Information Web Page

CFPB Reg F Small Entity Compliance Guide

MVN – Annotated by ACA

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Regulation F Implementation

A go-to series of videos to help guide you through what exactly is needed to be done to comply with Reg F. This product picks apart every section of regulation F, and instructs you on HOW you need to adjust the way you do business. Enjoy 15 hours of education, taught by industry-leading professionals, all broken down into 3 to 5 minute easy-to-navigate tutorials.

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Reg F Huddle Series

Huddle Series - Part 1

Ready, Set…Go!

Speakers:

  • Leah Dempsey, VP and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy, ACA International
  • Mark Neeb, CEO, ACA International
  • Issa Moe, Vice President – Legal and General Counsel, ACA International
  • Colin Winkler, Corporate Counsel, ACA International

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Limited Content Voicemail Message and Call Frequency

Speakers:

  • David Kaminski, Partner, Carlson & Messer LLP, Los Angeles
  • Rick Perr, Co-Managing Partner, Kaufman Dolowich Voluck, Philadelphia
  • Jay Gonsalves, President, Action Collection Agencies Inc., Middleboro, Mass

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Validation Notices

Speakers:

  • Nicole M. StricklerPartner, Messer Strickler, Ltd., Chicago, IL
  • Dennis Barton IIIOwner and Managing Attorney, THE BARTON LAW GROUP, LLC, St. Louis, MO

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Electronic Communications Disclosures

Speakers:

  • Leslie BenderSenior Counsel, Clark Hill Law, Washington, D.C.
  • David SchultzPartner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Chicago, IL
  • Tim CollinsGeneral Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, TrueAccord Corp, San Francisco, CA

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Uncover and Deep Dive on Collection Practices

Speakers:

  • June ColemanOf Counsel, Carlson & Messer LLP, Los Angeles, CA
  • Michael KluthoShareholder, Bassford Remele, Minneapolis, MN
  • John RossmanAttorney at Law, Moss & Barnett, Minneapolis, MN

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Credit Reporting Under the New Rule

Speakers:

  • Christopher MeierGeneral Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, The CMI Group Inc., Plano, Texas
  • Kim PhanPartner, Ballard Spahr LLP, Washington, D.C.
  • John BedardOwner, Bedard Law Group P.C., Duluth, Georgia

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ACA Member Impact – Small/Medium/Large. What is my Next Step?

Speakers:

  • Tamar Yudenfreund, Senior Director, Public Policy, Encore Capital Group, San Diego
  • Jack Brown IIIPresident, Gulf Coast Collection Bureau Inc., Sarasota, Florida
  • Courtney ReynaudPresident, Creditors Bureau USA, Fresno, Calf.

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How the Rule Interacts with State Laws

Speakers:

  • Andy MaddenVice President, State Government and Unit Affairs, ACA International, Washington, DC
  • Jedd Bellman, President- NACARA (North America Collection Agency Regulators Association), Assistant Commissioner for Non-Depository Supervision at the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, Maryland Department of Labor, Baltimore, Maryland

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Policy and Regulators

Speakers:

  • Patrick Russell, Federal Advocacy Director, ACA International, Washington, D.C.
  • Leah Dempsey, Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy, ACA International, Washington, D.C.
  • Sarah J. AuchterlonieShareholder, Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, and Schreck, Washington, D.C.
  • Jonathan L. PompanPartner and Co-Chair Consumer Financial Services Practice Group and CFPB Task Force at Venable LLP

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09/26/2019 – Examining Legislation to Protect Consumers and Small Business 

What are the Letter Vendors Doing in Reaction to the Rule?

Speakers:

  • Rob AuggVP, Business Development and Marketing, Renkim Corporation, Columbus, Ohio
  • Mike McDonnellVice President of Business Development – Healthcare at RevSpring, Cedar, Michigan

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What are the Big Software Companies Doing in Reaction to the Rule?

Speakers:

  • Chris BeebeDirector, Product Management, Ontario, Muncie, IN
  • Aaron Reiter, Director of Sales, Marketing & Business Development, Interprose, Vancouver, WA
  • Mike Cantrell, President, Solutions by Text, Mckinney, TX

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ACA Huddle - Reg F Series Part 2

CFPB Releases Part Two of Final Debt Collection Rule

Speakers:

  • Leah Dempsey, VP and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy, ACA International
  • Mark Neeb, CEO, ACA International
  • Issa Moe, Vice President – Legal and General Counsel, ACA International
  • Colin Winkler, Corporate Counsel, ACA International
  • Mike Frost, Partner at Malone Frost Martin PLLC, Cedar Falls, IA

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The Rule is Final – Where do we go from here at the CFPB and in Congress

Speakers:

  • Leah Dempsey, VP and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy, ACA International, Washington DC
  • Mark Brennan, Lead Innovation Partner, Hogan Lovells, Washington, DC
  • Ryan Donovan, Chief Advocacy Officer at CUNA, Credit Union National Association, Fairfax, Virginia
  • Jane Luxton, Partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, Washington, D.C.

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Credit Reporting: No Introduction Needed – See You There

Speakers:

  • Kim Phan, Partner, Ballard Spahr, Washington, DC
  • Leslie Bender, Senior Counsel, Clark Hill PLC, Washington, DC
  • Jeff DiMatteo, President, AMERICAN PROFIT RECOVERY, Franklin MA

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Validation Notice Information – You Had Me at Hello

Speakers:

  • Keith Kettelkamp, President & CEO, Remex, Inc.,Princeton, NJ
  • Eileen Bitterman, Compliance Officer,Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., L.P.A.,Cleveland, OH
  • G. Scott Purcell, CPA (inactive),President, Professional Credit, Springfield, OR

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Validation Notice Template: No Need to Reinvent the Wheel – We’ll do it for you.

Speakers:

  • Dennis Barton III, Owner and Managing Attorney, THE BARTON LAW GROUP, LLC, St. Louis
  • Rick Perr, Co Managing Partner, Kaufman Dolowich Voluck, Philadelphia
  • Kelly Knepper-Stephens, Vice President of Legal Compliance, TrueAccord, Lenexa, KS

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Delivery Requirement (Legal) Electronic Communication Requirements

Speakers:

  • Mike Etmund, Attorney at Moss & Barnett, Minneapolis
  • Lauren Valenzuela, ESQ., Corporate Counsel, Performant Recovery, Inc., Livermore, CA
  • John H. Bedard, Jr., Owner, Bedard Law Group, P.C., Duluth, Georgia

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Delivery Requirements (Vendor Side) Electronic Communication Requirements

Speakers:

  • Jessica Klander, Shareholder, Bassford Remele, Minneapolis
  • Rob Augg, VP, Business Development and Marketing at Renkim Corporation, Columbus, OH
  • Paul Daniels, Chief Revenue Officer, Intelligent Contacts Inc., Plano, Texas

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Does it go away or is it here to stay….Descendent Debt. Decedent Debt

Speakers:

  • James R. Bedell, General Counsel, AscensionPoint Recovery Services, LLC, Coon Rapids, MN
  • Jack Brown III, President, Gulf Coast Collection Bureau, Inc., Sarasota, FL
  • Heath Morgan, Partner, Malone Frost Martin, Dallas TX

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The Time-Barred Debt – It’s “time after sometime” to talk about this.

Speakers:

  • Dennis Barton III, Owner and Managing Attorney, THE BARTON LAW GROUP, LLC, St. Louis
  • Tamar Yudenfreund, Sr. Director, Public Policy, Encore Capital Group, San Diego
  • David Schultz, Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Chicago

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Itemization of Medical Debt, Creditors and Medical Providers

Speakers:

  • Pam Kirchner, Chief Executive Officer, BCA Financial Services, Miami
  • Shawn Gretz, President, AMERICOLLECT, Manitowoc, WI

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CFPB Reg F FAQs

The questions and answers below pertain to compliance with the Debt Collection Rule. View the CFPB’s FAQs as a PDF

QUESTION 1:

What is a “limited-content message”?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Under the Debt Collection Rule, a “limited-content message” is a message that:

  • Is a voicemail;
  • Is for a consumer; and
  • Includes the required content.The required content includes the following:
  • A business name for the debt collector that does not indicate that the caller is in the business of collecting debts;
  • A request that the consumer reply to the message;
  • The name or names of one or more natural persons whom the consumer can contact to reply to the debt collector; and

This is a Compliance Aid issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Bureau published a Policy Statement on Compliance Aids, available at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/policy-compliance/rulemaking/final-rules/policy-statement-compliance-aids/, that explains the Bureau’s approach to Compliance Aids.

  • A telephone number or numbers that the consumer can use to reply to the debt collector.

12 CFR § 1006.2(j).

In addition to the required content, a limited-content message may also include one or more of the following items of optional content:

  • A salutation;
  • The date and time of the message;
  • Suggested dates and times for the consumer to reply to the message; and
  • A statement that, if the consumer replies, the consumer may speak to any of the company’s representatives or associates.Under the Rule, debt collectors must not, with some exceptions, communicate in connection with the collection of a debt with a third party. 12 CFR § 1006.6(d). Since a limited-content message is an attempt to communicate and not a communication under the Debt Collection Rule, as discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 2, a debt collector who leaves only a limited-content message does not violate the prohibition against third-party communications. 12 CFR § 1006.2(b) and Comment 2(d)-2.

In addition, leaving a limited-content message does not violate the Debt Collection Rule’s requirement to meaningfully disclose the caller’s identity with respect to that voicemail message. Comment 2(j)-3.

For more information about the definition of a limited-content message under the Debt Collection Rule, see Section 3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 2:

Is a limited-content message a “communication”?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No.

Under the Debt Collection Rule, a “communication” is defined as the conveying of information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium, including any oral, written, electronic, or other medium. For example, a communication may occur in person or by telephone, audio recording, paper document, mail, email message, text message, social media, or other electronic media. 12 CFR § 1006.2(d) and Comment 2(d)-1. An “attempted communication” is defined as any act to initiate a communication or other contact about a debt with any person through any medium, including by soliciting a response from such person. An act to initiate a communication or other contact about a debt is an attempt to communicate regardless of whether the attempt, if successful, would be a communication that conveys information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person. 12 CFR § 1006.2(b) and Comment 2(b)-1.

A limited-content message is an “attempt to communicate” but is not a “communication” under the Debt Collection Rule because it does not convey information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to a person. 12 CFR § 1006.2(b) and (d). Thus, a limited-content message is subject to the requirements and prohibitions that apply to attempts to communicate but not to the requirements and prohibitions that apply only to communications.

If, however, a debt collector does not include all of the required content, knowingly leaves the voicemail for anyone other than a consumer, leaves the message in a medium other than voicemail, or adds content beyond the required and optional content, the message is not a limited-content message. Instead, generally, that message is an attempt to communicate. 12 CFR § 1006.2(b). Additionally, if content is added to the message beyond the required and optional content, and the additional content conveys information about a debt, the message is a communication. 12 CFR § 1006.2(d) and Comment 2(j)-1.

For more information about limited-content messages, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the definitions of “attempt to communicate” and “communication,” see Section 3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 3:

Is a voicemail a limited-content message if it contains information that is required by state law but that information is not required or optional content under the Rule?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. If a voicemail includes any information beyond the required or optional content in the Debt Collection Rule, the voicemail is not a limited-content message. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j). If a state law requires additional or different information to be included in a voicemail message left by a debt collector, a debt collector’s voicemail message in that state would not be a limited-content message. For more information about the required and optional content for limited-content messages, see Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 1.

However, the inclusion of state-required statements or information does not mean the voicemail message is automatically a communication under the Debt Collection Rule. As discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 2, a voicemail is a communication under the Rule only if it conveys information about a debt, directly or indirectly, to any person through any medium.

For more information about limited-content messages under the Debt Collection Rule, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the definition of “communication,” see Section 3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 4:

If a call drops or is otherwise interrupted while a debt collector is leaving a limited-content message, is the voicemail still a limited-content message?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. If a call drops or is otherwise interrupted and results in a partial voicemail that does not include all of the required content, that partial voicemail is not a limited-content message. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j).

As discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 2, if a voicemail contains information that conveys information about a debt, the voicemail is not a limited-content message and is a communication, even as a partial message. 12 CFR § 1006.2(d). If, however, a debt collector attempts to leave only a limited-content message, but the message is cut off, it is not a communication because the partial message does not contain information about a debt. For example, if the partial message contains only some of the required or optional limited-content message content, then the partial message is an attempt to communicate and not a communication.

For more information about limited-content messages, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the definitions of “attempt to communicate” and “communication” see Section 3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 5:

Can a debt collector use a pre-recorded voicemail message to deliver a limited-content message?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Yes. The Debt Collection Rule does not prohibit a debt collector from using a pre-recorded message to leave a limited-content message. However, there are requirements in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (47 U.S.C. § 227) regarding the use of pre- recorded messages that a debt collector may want to review before leaving a pre-recorded message.

For more information about limited-content messages, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 6:

Are Zortman voicemails considered limited-content messages?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No.

In Zortman v. J.C. Christensen & Assocs., Inc. (870 F. Supp. 2d 694 (D. Minn. 2012)), the debt collector left the following voicemail: “We have an important message from [company’s name]. This is a call from a debt collector. Please call [company’s telephone number].”

The voicemail message from Zortman is not a limited-content message because it does not contain all of the required content for a limited-content message and it includes additional content that is neither required content nor optional content for limited-content messages, specifically that the call is from a debt collector. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j). For more information about the required and optional content for limited-content messages, see Debt Collection Limited Content Messages Question 1. Since the voicemail message in Zortman is not a limited-content message, it does not receive a safe harbor from the prohibition against third party communications under the Rule, discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 2. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j).

For more information about limited-content messages, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 7:

Does the Debt Collection Rule prohibit a debt collector from leaving a

Zortman voicemail?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

The Debt Collection Rule does not address whether debt collectors may leave the voicemail message from Zortman v. J.C. Christensen & Assocs., Inc. (870 F. Supp. 2d 694 (D. Minn. 2012)), which is described in Debt Collection Limited-Content-Messages Question 6.

The court in Zortman determined that the voicemail left for the consumer in that case was not a communication under the FDCPA in the circumstances presented by the case.

For more information about limited-content messages, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 8:

Is a debt collector required to use their legal or registered Doing Business As (DBA) name in a limited-content message?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. The Debt Collection Rule does not require the business name in a limited-content message to be the debt collector’s legal name or registered DBA.

As discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 1, in order for a voicemail message to be a limited-content message under the Debt Collection Rule, the voicemail must contain certain required content, including a business name for the debt collector that does not indicate that the caller is in the business of collecting debts. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j)(1). The Debt Collection Rule does not change existing case law regarding whether or what names indicate or do not indicate that a debt collector is in the debt collection business. For example, if a debt collector could properly use the business name on an envelope without violating the FDCPA or the Debt Collection Rule, the debt collector could use the same business name in a limited- content message. 12 CFR § 1006.22(f)(2). Further, as discussed in Debt Collection Limited- Content Messages Question 1, leaving a limited-content message does not violate the requirement to meaningfully disclose the caller’s identity with respect to that voicemail message, even though that message may contain abbreviations or may not include the debt collector’s full legal name. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j) and Comment 2(j)-3.

State licensing or other laws, however, may require a debt collector to use their registered DBA when leaving messages for consumers. If a debt collector’s registered DBA indicates that the debt collector is in the business of debt collection, and if, pursuant to a State licensing or other legal requirement, the debt collector is required to use its registered DBA in a voicemail for a consumer, the voicemail would not be a limited-content message. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j)(1). In that case, because, under the Debt Collection Rule, a limited-content message must contain a business name and the business name must not indicate the caller is in the business of collecting debts, the debt collector would not be able to leave limited-content messages that comply with State law. Additionally, a debt collector must also comply with all other applicable provisions of the Debt Collection Rule when disclosing their business name in a limited-content message, such as the prohibition against using false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means in connection with the collection of any debt. 12 CFR § 1006.18(a). For more information about the prohibition against false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means, see Section 8 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

For more information about limited-content messages, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 9:

If the recipient of a limited-content message researches the business name and identifies the caller as a debt collector, does that mean the voicemail is no longer a limited-content message?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. A message does not fail to be a limited-content message merely because a person who hears the message researches the debt collector’s business name, and, in doing so, determines that the caller is in the business of debt collection.

As discussed in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 1, in order for a voicemail message to be a limited-content message under the Debt Collection Rule, the voicemail must contain certain required content, including a business name for the debt collector that does not indicate that the caller is in the business of collecting debts. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j)(1). As long as the business name used by the debt collector, on its own, does not indicate that the caller is in the business of collecting debts, the message is a limited-content message, provided that it meets the other requirements for a limited-content message. 12 CFR § 1006.2(j).

For more information about limited-content messages, see Section 3.3.3 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 1:

Does the Debt Collection Rule limit the frequency of telephone calls a debt collector may place, or telephone conversations a debt collector may have, about a debt?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

The Debt Collection Rule does not impose a specific “limit” or “cap” on the frequency of telephone calls that a debt collector may place or conversations that a debt collector may have about a debt. Instead, the Rule establishes a presumption of a violation of, and a presumption of compliance with, the prohibition against harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct, based on the frequency of a debt collector’s telephone calls and conversations. These presumptions are discussed in Debt Collection Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

In general, under the Debt Collection Rule, a debt collector must not engage in conduct in connection with the collection of a debt if the natural consequence of that conduct is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person. 12 CFR § 1006.14(a). In addition to this general prohibition, the Debt Collection Rule specifically prohibits a debt collector from placing telephone calls or engaging any person in telephone conversations repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(1). This specific prohibition related to telephone calls and telephone conversations will be referred to as “the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations” throughout these FAQs.

A debt collector who complies with the specific prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations complies with the general prohibition against engaging in conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person solely with respect to the frequency of the debt collector’s telephone calls. A debt collector nevertheless could violate the general prohibition if the natural consequence of another aspect of the debt collector’s telephone calls, unrelated to frequency, is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Comment 14(b)(1)-1.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 1:

What are the presumptions related to telephone call frequency?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Under the Debt Collection Rule, a debt collector is presumed to comply with the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations if the debt collector places a telephone call to a particular person in connection with the collection of a particular debt neither:

  • More than seven times within seven consecutive calendar days [“call frequency prong”]; nor
  • Within a period of seven consecutive calendar days after having had a telephone conversation with the person in connection with the collection of such debt [“conversation frequency prong”].

For the presumption of compliance to apply, the debt collector must not exceed either prong of the standard.

12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(2)(i).

Conversely, a debt collector is presumed to violate the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations if the debt collector places a telephone call to a particular person in connection with the collection of a particular debt:

  • More than seven times within seven consecutive calendar days [“call frequency prong”]; or
  • Within a period of seven consecutive calendar days after having had a telephone conversation with the person in connection with the collection of such debt [“conversation frequency prong”].

The presumption of a violation applies if the debt collector exceeds one or both prongs of the standard.

12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(2)(ii).

The term particular debt means each of a consumer’s debts in collection, except in the case of student loan debt. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(4). For more information about the definition of particular debt as it applies to student loan debt, see Section 7.1.1 in the Debt Collection Smal Entity Compliance Guide. In addition, certain telephone calls are excluded from the presumptions related to telephone call frequency. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(3). For more information about excluded telephone calls, see Debt Collection Telephone Call FrequencyExcluded Calls Question 1.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 2:

Do incoming telephone calls from a consumer to a debt collector about a debt count for purposes of the “call frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. When a consumer places a telephone call to a debt collector, that telephone call is not a telephone call placed by the debt collector. Therefore, that telephone call is not included when determining whether the debt collector complied with the “call frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(2). For more information about the “call frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

However, if a debt collector has a conversation with the consumer about a debt (no matter which party initiated the call), and the debt collector then places a telephone call to the consumer to discuss the same debt within the next seven days, the debt collector is presumed to violate the “conversation frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, unless an exception applies. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(2)(ii). See also Comment 14(b)(4)-1.

For more information about the “conversation frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 3:

Does the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations apply to other media types, such as electronic messages that may be received on a mobile phone?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. The prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations only applies to telephone calls; it does not apply to other media types, such as text messages, email, in-person interactions, or social media. Because the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations does not apply to media other than telephone calls, the presumptions related to telephone call frequency discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1 do not apply to media other than telephone calls.

Comment 14(b)-1.

However, a debt collector’s conduct using any media, such as in-person interactions, telephone calls, audio recordings, paper documents, mail, email, text messages, and social media, including the cumulative effect of the debt collector’s conduct across multiple media types, may still violate the general prohibition against harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct. 12 CFR § 1006.14(a).

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

QUESTION 4:

How do the presumptions related to telephone call frequency apply if a consumer has multiple telephone numbers?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

The presumptions related to telephone call frequency, as discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1, apply per person, per debt, regardless of how many telephone numbers are associated with a particular person. 12 CFR

§ 1006.14(b)(2)(i) and (ii). For example, if a debt collector has eight different telephone numbers associated with a consumer and places one unanswered call to each of the telephone numbers about the same debt within seven consecutive days, the debt collector is presumed to violate the “call frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, as discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1, unless an exception applies. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(2)(ii).

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

QUESTION 5:

If a debt collector learns that a telephone number the debt collector previously called is not associated with the consumer, do those calls count toward the presumptions related to telephone call frequency for the consumer?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. Misdirected calls do not count toward the presumptions related to telephone call frequency for the consumer, since the telephone number is not associated with the consumer and the consumer does not answer telephone calls to that number. Comment 14(b)(2)(i)-3. However, the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1, apply to all persons, not just to the consumer or the person who owes or allegedly owes the debt. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(2). Thus, the calls placed do count toward the presumptions related to telephone call frequency for the person who actually received the call attempt.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

QUESTION 6:

How does a telephone conversation about multiple debts count for purposes of the “conversation frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

If a debt collector and a consumer have a telephone conversation about multiple debts, the debt collector has engaged in a telephone conversation in connection with the collection of each debt discussed. This is true regardless of which party (the debt collector or the consumer) initiated the telephone call or the discussion of each debt. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(2)(i)(B) and Comment 14(b)(4)-1.ii. As a result, if, during the seven-day period after the conversation, the debt collector places a telephone call to the consumer regarding any of the debts discussed in the conversation, the debt collector is presumed to have violated the “conversation frequency prong” of the presumptions relating to call frequency, discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1, unless an exception applies. Comment 14(b)(4)-1.ii.

For example, assume a debt collector is attempting to collect a medical debt and a credit card debt from the same consumer and the debt collector places a telephone call to, and initiates a telephone conversation with, the consumer about the collection of the medical debt. The consumer states that they do not want to discuss the medical debt, and instead initiates a discussion about the credit card debt. The debt collector has had a conversation with the consumer with respect to the medical debt and the credit card debt. If, during the seven-day period following the conversation, the debt collector places a telephone call to the consumer regarding either debt, the debt collector would be presumed to violate the “conversation frequency prong” of the presumptions relating to call frequency for that debt, even though the consumer initiated the conversation about the credit card debt. See Comments 14(b)(4)-1.ii. and -2.vi.

For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1. For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 7:

If a debt collector calls a consumer to discuss multiple debts the consumer owes or allegedly owes but does not reach the consumer or leave any voicemails, how do those telephone calls count for purposes of the “call frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

If a debt collector calls a consumer to discuss multiple debts the consumer owes or allegedly owes, but the consumer does not answer the call and the debt collector does not leave a voicemail, the debt collector counts the telephone call as a telephone call in connection with the collection of at least one particular debt, unless an exclusion applies. Comment 14(b)(4)-1.i.

For example, assume that a debt collector is attempting to collect a medical debt and a credit card debt from the same consumer and the debt collector places four unanswered telephone calls to the consumer. The debt collector may count the calls for the purposes of the “call frequency prong” of the presumptions related to telephone call frequency in several different ways. To list just a few examples, the debt collector may:

  • Count all four of the calls as calls placed in connection with the collection of the medical debt or as calls placed in connection with the collection of the credit card debt.
  • Count all four of the calls as calls placed in connection with the collection of the medical debt and the credit card debt.
  • Count two of the calls as calls placed in connection with the collection of the medical debt, and two of the calls as calls placed in connection with the collection of the credit card debt.

Comment 14(b)(4)-1.i.

For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1. For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 8:

What if a debt collector operates in a state that has different rules regarding how many times a debt collector may call or have a conversation with a consumer about a debt?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

The Debt Collection Rule does not preempt a state law that affords greater protection to consumers, including, for example, by imposing limits or more restrictive presumptions related to telephone call frequency.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 1:

Are certain telephone calls excluded from the presumptions related to telephone call frequency?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Yes. Under the Debt Collection Rule, certain telephone calls are excluded from the telephone call frequencies. A telephone call placed to a person does not count toward the telephone call frequencies if the telephone call is:

  • Placed with direct prior consent. A person’s prior consent must be given directly to the debt collector and the calls must be placed within a period no longer than seven consecutive days after receiving the direct prior consent. That is, if a person gives direct prior consent for additional telephone calls about a particular debt to a debt collector, any telephone calls that the debt collector thereafter places to the person about that particular debt do not count toward the telephone call frequencies for a period of up to seven consecutive days. A person’s direct prior consent may also expire before the end of the seven-consecutive-day period. A person’s direct prior consent expires when any of the following occur: (1) the person consents to telephone calls in excess of the telephone call frequencies for a period of less than seven days and such period has ended; (2) the person revokes such direct prior consent; or (3) the debt collector has a telephone conversation with the person regarding the particular debt. Comments 14(b)(3)(i)-2 and -3.

  • Not connected to the dialed number. A debt collector’s telephone call does not connect to the dialed number if, for example, the debt collector receives a busy signal or an indication that the dialed number is not in service.

  • Placed to certain permitted third parties. These parties include: a consumer’s attorney, the creditor, the creditor’s attorney, the debt collector’s attorney, or a consumer reporting agency (if otherwise permitted by law).

    12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(3).

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

QUESTION 2:

How long is a consumer’s direct prior consent valid?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

For purposes of the telephone call frequency exclusions, the maximum time a consumer’s direct prior consent to additional telephone calls is valid under the Debt Collection Rule is seven days, even if the consumer agrees to a longer period. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(3) and Comment 14(b)(3)(i)-2. However, as discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1, once the debt collector has a telephone conversation with the consumer regarding the debt, the consumer’s direct prior consent expires. Further, a consumer may revoke their direct prior consent for additional telephone calls at any time. Any calls placed after the consumer’s direct prior consent expires count toward the telephone call frequencies unless an exception applies, or the debt collector obtains new direct prior consent from the consumer.

See Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1 for additional

information about the exclusion for direct prior consent and the other circumstances in which a consumer’s direct prior consent may expire.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide.

QUESTION 3:

What are some examples of telephone calls that are connected to a dialed number and telephone calls that are not connected to a dialed number?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Telephone calls that are not connected to the dialed number are excluded from the telephone call frequencies. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(3). Thus, a telephone call counts toward the telephone call frequencies if it connects to a dialed number, unless the call is otherwise excluded as discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1.

The following are examples of telephone calls that connect to a dialed number:

  • The telephone call causes a telephone to ring at the dialed number, but no one answers the call.
  • The telephone call causes a telephone to ring at the dialed number, but the call does not connect to a voicemail.
  • The telephone call causes a telephone to ring at the dialed number, but the debt collector hangs up before anyone answers the call or the call connects to a voicemail.
  • The telephone call is connected directly to a voicemail, even if the telephone does not ring and even if the debt collector is not able to leave a message.
  • The telephone call is answered, even if the telephone call subsequently drops.

    The following are examples of telephone calls that do not connect to a dialed number:

  • The telephone call results in a busy signal or an indication, such as a dial tone or other sound, that the dialed number is not in service.

  • The telephone call results in a message that the call cannot be completed as dialed or the dialed number is out of service.

    Comment 14(b)(3)(ii)-1.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1. For more information about calls that are excluded from the telephone call frequencies, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1.

QUESTION 4:

Is a limited-content message excluded from the presumptions related to telephone call frequency?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

No. There is no specific exclusion from the telephone call frequencies in the Debt Collection Rule for limited-content messages.

A telephone call counts toward the telephone call frequencies if it connects to a dialed number, unless the call is otherwise excluded as discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1. If a debt collector’s telephone call is connected to a voicemail or other recorded message, it is considered connected. Comment 14(b)(3)(ii)-1. The Rule defines a limited-content message as a voicemail message for a consumer that contains specified required content and that may also contain certain optional content as described in Debt Collection Limited-Content Messages Question 1. Since a limited-content message is a voicemail message, it is considered a connected call. For additional examples of calls that are considered connected or not connected to a dialed number, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 3.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1. For more information about calls that are excluded from the telephone call frequencies, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1 and 3.

QUESTION 5:

Is a debt collector’s return telephone call responding to a consumer’s inquiry about resolving the consumer’s debt excluded from the presumptions related to telephone call frequency?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the return call, the call may be an excluded call if it is placed with the consumer’s direct prior consent, as discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(3) and Comment 14(b)(3)(i)-2. For example, if the consumer’s inquiry provided direct prior consent, the return telephone call was placed by the debt collector within seven days of the consumer’s inquiry, and the consent has not otherwise expired, the debt collector’s return call is excluded

from the telephone call frequencies.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1. For more information about calls that are excluded from the telephone call frequencies, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1.

QUESTION 1:

What factors rebut the presumption of compliance with the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Under the Debt Collection Rule, to rebut the presumption of compliance, it must be proven that a debt collector who did not place telephone calls in excess of the telephone call frequencies nevertheless caused a telephone to ring or engaged a person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass a person at the called number:

Presumption of Compliance Rebuttal Factors. Factors that may rebut the presumption of compliance include but are not limited to:

  • Call frequency and pattern. The frequency and pattern of telephone calls the debt collector places to a person, including the intervals between the telephone calls. The considerations relevant to this factor include whether the debt collector places telephone calls to a person in rapid succession (e.g., two unanswered telephone calls to the same telephone number within five minutes) or in a highly concentrated manner (e.g., seven telephone calls to the same telephone number within one day). It may also be relevant if the debt collector concentrates telephone calls on days that may be less convenient for the consumer (such as Sundays or holidays). Application of this factor is not limited to rapid succession or highly concentrated calling, however, and is dependent on all of the relevant facts and circumstances that may indicate an intent on the part of the debt collector to harass, annoy, or abuse the consumer.
  • Voicemail frequency and pattern. The frequency and pattern of any voicemails that the debt collector leaves for a person, including the intervals between the voicemails. The considerations relevant to this factor include whether the debt collector left voicemails for a person in rapid succession (e.g., two voicemails within five minutes left at the same telephone number) or in a highly concentrated manner (e.g., seven voicemails left at the same telephone number within one day).
  • Content of prior communications. The content of a person’s prior communications with the debt collector. Among the considerations relevant to this factor are whether the person previously informed the debt collector, for example, that the person did not wish

    to be contacted about the particular debt, that the person was refusing to pay the debt, or that the person did not owe the particular debt.

  • Conduct in prior communications or attempts to communicate. The debt collector’s conduct in prior communications or attempts to communicate with the person. Among the considerations relevant to this factor are whether the debt collector used obscene, profane, or otherwise abusive language in any prior communications or attempts to communicate, used or threatened to use violence or other criminal means to harm the person, or called at an inconvenient time or place. The amount of time elapsed since any prior communication with the person may also be relevant to this factor.

Comment 14(b)(2)(i)-2.

These and other factors may be considered either individually or in combination with one another. The factors may be viewed in light of any other relevant facts and circumstances and therefore may apply to varying degrees. Comment 14(b)(2)(i)-2.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

 

QUESTION 2:

What factors rebut the presumption of a violation of the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations?

ANSWER (UPDATED 10/01/2021):

Under the Debt Collection Rule, to rebut the presumption of a violation, it must be proven that, despite the number of calls a debt collector made, the debt collector did not cause a telephone to ring or engage any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.

Presumption of Violation Rebuttal Factors. Factors that may rebut the presumption of a violation include but are not limited to:

  • Calls required by applicable law. Whether a debt collector placed a telephone call to comply with or as required by applicable law. For example, a telephone call to inform the consumer of available loss mitigation options in compliance with the Bureau’s

    mortgage servicing rules under Regulation X, 12 CFR § 1024.39(a), may be an example of a call placed to comply with applicable law.

  • Calls related to active litigation. Whether a telephone call was directly related to active litigation involving the collection of a particular debt. A telephone call to complete a court-ordered communication or as part of negotiations to settle active debt collection litigation involving the collection of a particular debt may be examples of calls directly related to active litigation involving the collection of a particular debt. However, the debt collector must comply with the prohibition on communicating or attempting to communicate with a consumer represented by an attorney with regard to the specific debt. 12 CFR § 1006.6(b)(2).
  • Consumer response calls. Whether a debt collector placed a telephone call in response to a consumer’s request for additional information when the exclusion for telephone calls made with the consumer’s direct prior consent does not apply. For example, a consumer may tell the debt collector that the consumer would like more

    information about a debt but end the call before the debt collector can confirm whether the consumer’s general statement about seeking more information constitutes the consumer’s consent for the debt collector to place additional calls within the next seven days to provide the requested information. A telephone call to provide the requested

    information may be an example of a call placed in response to a consumer’s request for additional information when the exclusion for calls made with the consumer’s direct prior content does not apply.

  • Consumer benefit calls. Whether a debt collector placed a telephone call to convey information to the consumer that, as shown through evidence, would provide the consumer with an opportunity to avoid a demonstrably negative effect relating to the collection of the particular debt, where the negative effect was not in the debt collector’s control, and where time was of the essence.

Comment 14(b)(2)(ii)-2.

For more information about the prohibition against repeated or continuous telephone calls or conversations, see Section 7 in the Debt Collection Small Entity Compliance Guide. For more information about the presumptions related to telephone call frequency, see Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Presumptions Question 1.

ACA Reg F FAQs

Since the back of the Reg. F Validation Letter is reserved for State Disclaimers, can we use a 1/3 sheet insert with our website info noting our payment portal, AND, the credit card form for payment? I know we can include the website only on the front of the letter with our name and address but I want consumers to know they can go online and remit payment using banking or credit card info.

Collectors can include an additional page of information, but anything outside the requirements and limits of the safe harbor provided by Reg. F for the model validation notice will not be included within that safe harbor. So, you must take care to ensure that any additional information you provide meets any requirements of state and federal law.

Can we include in the MVN requests for payment such as by the use of online Payment Portals, QR codes, etc.?

Regulation F permits some minor changes to be made to the Model Form B-1 while still retaining the safe harbor, provided the notice remains “substantially similar” to the Model Notice. Section 1006.34(d)(2)(iii) explains the substantially similar form and provides examples of permissible changes in the Official Interpretations. Notably, subsection iii of the Official Interpretations shown below indicates that barcodes and QR codes can be added to the validation notice without losing the safe harbor provided that they do not overshadow the validation notice as prohibited by § 1006.38(b). It’s also worth noting that § 1006.34(d)(3)(iii) of the Optional Disclosures permits debt collectors to add the following staments “Contact us about your payment options.” or a substantially similar phrase; and the statement, “I enclosed this amount:” or a substantially similar phrase, payment instructions after that statement, and a prompt. This is likely the area of the notice where a QR code could be located. § 1006.34(d)(2)(iii) Substantially similar form. A debt collector who uses Model Form B–1 as described in paragraphs (d)(2)(i) or (ii) of this section may make changes to the form and retain a safe harbor for compliance with the information and form requirements of paragraphs (c) and (d)(1) of this section provided that the form remains substantially similar to Model Form B–1.Official interpretation of 34(d)(2)(iii) Substantially similar form. 1. Substantially similar form. Pursuant to § 1006.34(d)(2)(iii), a debt collector who uses Model Form B–1 as described in § 1006.34(d)(2)(i) may make changes to the form and retain the safe harbor for compliance with the information and form requirements of § 1006.34(c) and (d)(1) provided that the form remains substantially similar in substance, clarity, and meaningful sequence to Model Form B–1. Permissible changes include, for example:i. Modifications to remove language that could suggest liability for the debt if such language is not applicable. For example, if a debt collector sends a validation notice to a person who is authorized to act on behalf of the deceased consumer’s estate (see comment 34(a)(1)–1), and that person is not liable for the debt, the debt collector may use the name of the deceased consumer instead of “you”;ii. Relocating the consumer-response information required by § 1006.34(c)(4) to facilitate mailing;iii. Adding barcodes or QR codes, as long as the inclusion of such items does not violate § 1006.38(b); (emphasis added). iv. Adding the date the form is generated; andv. Embedding hyperlinks, if delivering the form electronically.

Some states have rules prohibiting type fonts smaller than 10pt. The MS Word version of the MVN has 9 pt font in one section. Does Reg. F specify any requirements regarding font size?

No. We are not aware of any state requirements that the entire validation notice be rendered in type font of a certain size. Some states have font size requirements regarding disclsoures that are specific to that state. The Bureau has declined to further clarify the definition of “clear and conspicuous” provided in Sec. 1006.34(b)(1) by, for example, dictating font sizes or requirements regarding disclosure placement. The Bureau goes on to opine that, different debt collectors may design their communications in different ways, and the Bureau does not believe it is necessary or warranted to specify such details, as long as the disclosure satisfies the clear and conspicuous standard. That being said, you still must follow any state law requirements regarding font size for any state disclosures.

Regarding the itemization date, it seems that the best option would be to use the charge-off date and always put zeros in the payment and “adjustment” fields, except that this does not tell the consumer an actual date of service.

The “best,” i.e., most useful itemization date will vary from account to account and creditor to creditor depending on the good or service provided and the the creditor’s existing or planned billing or accounting practices. Whichever of the five available itemization dates a debt collector opts to use for its validation letter, the “fees” and the “payments and credits” since the itemization date must accurately reflect those amounts, and it’s impermissible to leave those fields blank, although a credit may list “$0.00” or “none” or state in words that no interest, fees, payments, or credits have been assessed or have accrued since the itemization date. That all being said, there’s no express requirement to tell the consumer the date of service; Reg F requires only that the debt collector provide one of the five permissible itemization dates.

May we remove both Spanish statements from the MVN if we do not intend to send the validation letter in Spanish?

Yes; because this is an optional disclosure. See Analysis at Section 1006.34(d)(3)(iv)(a) if you do not intend to provide the MVN in Spanish, you should remove the proposed Spanish statements.

Is the “see reverse side for important info” only for disclosures?

Yes, because you are only permitted to put on the reverse side of the validation notice those disclosures that are specifically required by applicable law, for example, Federal, State, or municipal statutes or regulations, and specific disclosures required by judicial or administrative decisions or orders, including administrative consent orders. Such disclosures could include, for example, time-barred debt disclosures, and disclosures that the current amount of the debt may increase or vary due to interest, fees, or other charges, provided that such disclosures are specifically required by applicable law. See Sec. 1006.34(d)(3)(iv)(A).

Does Reg. F mandate what font size or format must be used on the validation letter?

Reg F does not specify required font sizes for validation letters, including for the Model Validation Notice (MVN). In fact, per the Section by Section Analysis, the Bureau expressly declined to adopt specific standards for font size and disclosure placement in valdiation notices. But consumer disclosures in a validation notice under Reg F remain subject to the new “clear and conspicuous” standard, which generally means they must be readily understandable and, in the case of written and electronic disclosures, “the location and type size” must be “readily noticeable and legible to consumers, although no minimum type size is mandated.” Note that some state disclosures do require minimum type sizes for those state disclosures, but ACA remains unaware of any state or local law requiring a uniform type size, font, or typeface applicable to an entire letter (validation or otherwise).

I want to know what others are doing for texting and email capability.

Post your question on the ACA’s online community, The Hub, to learn what peer agencies are doing.

The model validation notice asks the debtor in Spanish if they want a copy of our letter translated into Spanish. Is it mandatory to include a Spanish advisement on our letters, as shown on the model validation notice?

No. The Spanish language disclosure listed under §§ 1006.34(d)(3)(vi)(A) and (B) of Reg. F is one of the optional disclosures in Model Form B-1, and is therefor not required to be included in the validation notice. Further, Reg. F does not require debt collectors to provide a Spanish language validation notice. As this is the case, listing the Spanish disclosure in cases where the debt collector does not intend to provide a translation of the validation notice would likely jeopardize the safe harbor provided under § 1666.34(d)(2) and could potentially violate Reg. F and the FDCPA, because this is an optional disclosure. See analysis at Section 1006.34(d)(3)(iv)(a) if you do not intend to provide the MVN in Spanish, you should remove the proposed Spanish statements.

Our USPS #Number used for electronic mail returns and address changes, and our internal account number appears above the consumer’s name in the address area. Does this revoke the safe harbor?

Reg. F is not clear on this point. The MVN shows the account number immediately below the consumer’s address. To retain the safe harbor, if you make any permitted changes, the validation notice must be “substantially similar” to the MVN . Discuss with your attorney whether the change you propose falls within the risk tolerance for you as this change could take you outside of the safe harbor provided at Sec. 1006.34(d)(2)(iii).

The state of WV has certain requirements regarding date of service and the statute of limitation. Can we roll those dates together and if so, how do we determine the statute dates?

While Reg. F provides guidance regarding the placement on the MVN of certain state disclosures such as those involving the statute of limitations, you should consult with your counsel to determine what limitation date applies to any particular debt.

Does sending a letter count as a communication for the call frequency limitation (7 in 7) rule?

No. The call-frequency limitation rule (Reg F § 1006.14(b)(2)(i)) applies only to telephone calls. It does not apply to other communications, e.g., mailed letters or electronic communications.

If a creditor uses two different agencies, can both be named in the email address disclosure? (i.e. “We are transferring your account to Agency A or Agency B…”).

Section 1.006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1) Regulation F does not allow for the notice from the creditor to list more than one debt collector. This is clear from the Official Interpretations of the Reg. F which I have provided below along with the text of the regulation (relevant sections bolded and italicized for emphasis). The Official Interpretation of § 1000.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1) explains that “[t]o satisfy this requirement, the notice must identify the name of the specific debt collector to which the debt has been or will be transferred” (emphasis added). Because this Official interpretation does not allow for multiple debt collectors to be listed on the notice, listing more than one debt collector would likely constitute a violation of Reg. F and the FDCPA if the debt collector were to then email the consumer after the 45-day period had elapsed. Additionally, the sample language noted below in the Official Interpretation of § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C) does not provide an option of listing more than one debt collector. This is an additional indicator that the CFPB did not intend to allow creditors to list multiple debt collectors on the notice required under § 1.006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)Regulation F and Official Interpretations1.006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C). (C) Before the debt collector used the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt, the creditor sent the consumer a written or electronic notice, to an address the creditor obtained from the consumer and used to communicate with the consumer about the account, that clearly and conspicuously disclosed:Official interpretation of Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(C).1. Clear and conspicuous. Clear and conspicuous means readily understandable. In the case of written and electronic disclosures, the location and type size also must be readily noticeable and legible to consumers, although no minimum type size is mandated.2. Sample language. Section 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send an email to an email address if, among other things, the creditor sent the consumer a written or electronic notice that clearly and conspicuously disclosed that the debt would be transferred to the debt collector; that the debt collector might use the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt; that, if others have access to this email address, then it is possible they may see the emails; instructions for a reasonable and simple method by which the consumer could opt out of such communications; and the date by which the debt collector or creditor must receive the consumer’s request to opt out.i. When a creditor sends the notice in writing, the creditor may use, but is not required to use, the following language to satisfy § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C): “We are transferring your account to ABC debt collector, and we are providing ABC debt collector with the following email address for you: [email address]. ABC debt collector may use this email address to communicate with you about the debt. If others have access to this email address, then it is possible they may see the emails. If you would like to opt out of communications by ABC debt collector to [email address], please fill out the enclosed form and return it in the enclosed envelope so that we receive it by [date].”ii. When a creditor sends the notice electronically, the creditor may use, but is not required to use, the following language to satisfy § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C): “We are transferring your account to ABC debt collector, and we are providing ABC debt collector with the following email address for you: [email address]. ABC debt collector may use this email address to communicate with you about the debt. If others have access to this email address, then it is possible they may see the emails. If you would like to opt out of communications by ABC debt collector to [email address], please click here by [date].”3. Combined notice. A notice provided by the creditor under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C) may be contained in a larger communication that conveys other information, as long as the notice is clear and conspicuous.(1) That the debt has been or will be transferred to the debt collector;Official interpretation of Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1).1. Identification of the debt collector. Under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1), the notice must clearly and conspicuously disclose, among other things, that the debt has been or will be transferred to the debt collector. To satisfy this requirement, the notice must identify the name of the specific debt collector to which the debt has been or will be transferred (emphasis added).(2) The email address and the fact that the debt collector might use the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt;(3) That, if others have access to the email address, then it is possible they may see the emails;(4) Instructions for a reasonable and simple method by which the consumer could opt out of such communications; and

If a collection agency has a creditor client that will not add the email disclosure to their “intent to place” letter, can we send a letter to the consumer post placement asking the consumer to provide us their consent to use a creditor provided email address?

Yes. The rule does not prohibit debt collectors from asking consumers for consent to email them. Therefore, if a consumer consented to receiving emails from a debt collector, the debt collector could communicate by email with the consumer, even without the disclosure sent by the creditor. The Official Interpretation of Reg. F provides as follows: “1. Prior consent—in general. Section 1006.6(d)(4)(i)(B) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send an email to an email address if, among other things, the debt collector has received directly from the consumer prior consent to use the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt. For purposes of § 1006.6(d)(4)(i)(B), a consumer may provide consent directly to a debt collector through any medium of communication, such as in writing, electronically, or orally.”

Is there any specific calling script to be followed to maintain compliance with Reg. F?

No. Reg F itself does not require a script, although collection agencies may want to amend existing scripts in light of any of a number of Reg F’s provisions, e.g., call-frequency limitations, asking for consumer communication preferences, seeking consent to email, etc.

How can we prepare our dialer strategy?

You should work with a vendor who has expertise and specializes in this area of service. For example, be sure to incorporate the new requirements for call frequency limitations, and include in your processes the ability to note any communication proferences provided by consumer. A vendor that is prpared to implement new processes for Reg. F should be able to guide you.

Regarding a collector itemizing the payment records of a consumer in a validation notice, for example, a consumer who has paid for initial services, and who only owes payment on the final year of services, does the collector need to provide the consumer with itemization only for those services for which the consumer still owes payment?

Yes. Reg. F does not require a debt collector to provide an itemization of a consumer’s entire account history. Rather, the debt collector only needs to provide the “itemization date,” the amount of the debt on the itemization date, and an “itemization of the debt.” This section of the regulation is provided below along with relevant Official Interpretations and definitions. Based on this section of the regulation, the debt collector only needs to provide “[a]itemization of the current amount of the debt reflecting interest, fees, payments, and credits since the itemization date. Section 1006.34(c)(2) requires, in relevant part: (vi) The itemization date.(vii) The amount of the debt on the itemization date.(viii) An itemization of the current amount of the debt reflecting interest, fees, payments, and credits since the itemization date (emphasis added). A debt collector may disclose the itemization on a separate page provided in the same communication with a validation notice, if the debt collector includes on the validation notice, where the itemization would have appeared, a statement referring to that separate page. Section 1006.34(b)(3) of the definitions explains that the “itemization date” means any one of the following five reference dates for which a debt collector can ascertain the amount of the debt:(i) The last statement date, which is the date of the last periodic statement or written account statement or invoice provided to the consumer by a creditor;(ii) The charge-off date, which is the date the debt was charged off;(iii) The last payment date, which is the date the last payment was applied to the debt;(iv) The transaction date, which is the date of the transaction that gave rise to the debt; or(v) The judgment date, which is the date of a final court judgment that determines the amount of the debt owed by the consumer.Official interpretation of Paragraph 34(b)(3)(i).1. Last statement date. Under § 1006.34(b)(3)(i), the last statement date is the date of the last periodic statement or written account statement or invoice provided to the consumer by a creditor. For purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(i), the last statement may be provided by a creditor or a third party acting on the creditor’s behalf, including a creditor’s service provider. However, a statement or invoice provided by a debt collector is not a last statement for purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(i), unless the debt collector is also a creditor.Official interpretation of Paragraph 34(b)(3)(iii).1. Last payment date. Under § 1006.34(b)(3)(iii), the last payment date is the date the last payment was applied to the debt. A third-party payment applied to the debt, such as a payment from an auto repossession agent or an insurance company, can be a last payment for purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(iii).Official interpretation of Paragraph 34(b)(3)(iv).1. Transaction date. Section 1006.34(b)(3)(iv) provides that the itemization date may be the date of the transaction that gave rise to the debt. The transaction date is the date that the good or service that gave rise to the debt was provided or made available to the consumer. For example, the transaction date for a debt arising from a medical procedure may be the date the medical procedure was performed, and the transaction date for a consumer’s gym membership may be the date the membership contract was executed. In some cases, a debt may have more than one transaction date. This could occur, for example, if a contract for a service is executed on one date and the service is performed on another date. If a debt has more than one transaction date, a debt collector may use any such date as the transaction date for purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(iv), but the debt collector must use whichever transaction date is selected consistently, as described in comment 34(b)(3)–1.Official interpretation of 34(b)(3) 1. In general. Section 1006.34(b)(3) defines itemization date for purposes of § 1006.34. Section 1006.34(b)(3) states that the itemization date is any one of five reference dates for which a debt collector can ascertain the amount of the debt. The reference dates are the last statement date, the charge-off date, the last payment date, the transaction date, and the judgment date. A debt collector may select any of these dates as the itemization date to comply with § 1006.34. Once a debt collector uses a reference date for a debt in a communication with a consumer, the debt collector must use that reference date for that debt consistently when providing the information required by § 1006.34(c) to that consumer. For example, if a debt collector uses the last statement date to determine and disclose the account number associated with the debt pursuant to § 1006.34(c)(2)(iv), the debt collector may not use the charge-off date to determine and disclose the amount of the debt pursuant to § 1006.34(c)(2)(vii).

If you use the MVN with the three dispute prompts responses, isn’t every debtor going to check the box to dispute to buy some time.

Regardless of the response taken by any given consumer, debt collectors must include these dispute prompts in every validation notice whther the collector uses the MVN or not.

What date are agencies using for their itemizaton date in the MVN for different kinds of debt (medical vs leasing and real estate).

Post your question on the ACA’s online community, The Hub, to learn what peer agencies are doing. Additionally, with respect to the itemization date in the MVN, there are some suggestions in the Official Commentary regarding possible itemization date for medical debt.   Reg F states in the Official Commentary that if you have multiple transactions dates, you may use any of those dates for the itemization date.

What date are agencies using for their itemization date in the MVN for medical collections?

The Bureau has suggested that those who collect medical debts may want to choose the transaction date as their itemization date. In its section by section analysis, the Bureau commented that  medical providers may combine multiple dates of service into one account or use family billing that combines separate bills for family members into one account. See comment 34(b)(3)(iv)–1, “if a debt has more than one transaction date, a debt collector may use any such date as the transaction date, but the debt collector must use whichever date the debt collector selects consistently, as described in comment 34(b)(3)–1. (Dec. Rule pp. 109-110) For information as to what dates your peers are using for itemization, please consider posting this question on the HUB.

If we are working secondary placements, can we  use the primary agency’s last statement date as our itemization date?

No. When you send your validation letter to the consumer, you must choose an itemization date that is one of the approved 5 dates listed in Reg. F.

If we receive a payment from an insurer after we start collecting on an account, do we need to change the itemization date?

No. Once you provide an itemization in the validation notice you send to the consumer, you do not need to update the itemization, however, it would be a good practice to ensure your systems enable you to answers questions your consumer may have regarding how you calculate the total amount due which would include current itemization.

We have  clients that charge off accounts on Sundays and assign accounts on Monday. Can we use “assignment date minus 1” as our itemization date?

No. The possible options provided within Reg. F for the itemization date are: (1) last statement date; (2) charge-off date; (3) last payment date; (4) transaction date that gave rise to the debt, and (5) judgment date. You may need to update your processes so that you are able to use one of the five approved itemization dates when you send the validation notice to each customer.

Do we have to include the itemization information if we use the last statement date as our itemization date?

Yes. Under Reg. F, the debt collector must provide  “[a]n itemization of the current amount of the debt reflecting interest, fees, payments, and credits since the itemization date.” While choosing the last statement date may mean you don’t have figures for various categories because, for example, there is no firgure for future interest, you still must list every single itemization line item and include a “0” or the word “none” if there is no applicable figure.  Do not include the notation “n/a”.  See the Official Interpretation of Section 1006.34(c)(2)(viii) just below.

Official interpretation of Paragraph 34(c)(2)(viii).

1. Itemization of the debt. Section 1006.34(c)(2)(viii) provides that validation information includes an itemization of the current amount of the debt reflecting interest, fees, payments, and credits since the itemization date. If providing a validation notice, a debt collector must include fields in the notice for all of these items even if none of the items have been assessed or applied to the debt since the itemization date. A debt collector may indicate that the value of a required field is “0,” “none,” or may state that no interest, fees, payments, or credits have been assessed or applied to the debt; a debt collector may not leave a required field blank.

(viii) An itemization of the current amount of the debt reflecting interest, fees, payments, and credits since the itemization date. A debt collector may disclose the itemization on a separate page provided in the same communication with a validation notice, if the debt collector includes on the validation notice, where the itemization would have appeared, a statement referring to that separate page.

Do we have to list all the payments and credits individually on the validation notice?

No, you are permitted to aggregate any payments and credits onto a single line item, you do not need to list each payment or credit individually.

Our letters have always been printed on green paper. Does printing the model validation notice (MVN) on green paper remove the safe harbor?

Reg. F is silent regarding choices of color for paper notices. ACA recommends that members discuss this question with counsel in light of existing case law on this issue. Recognize, however, that whatever colors a debt collector chooses for paper and ink, and when considering all questions regarding font size, typeface, etc., the consumer disclosures on the MVN or on any validation notice–must be “clear and conspicuous,” meaning readily understandable and, for written disclosures, readily noticeable and legible to consumers. That said, the CFPB declined to dictate required font sizes, placement of disclosures, and the like. Furthermore, the entire communication must not be misleading. Find more guidance on this topic in the ACA Searchpoint #3024, “Letter Requirements: Colors, Fonts and Double-Sided Notices.”

Our letters have always been printed on green paper. Does printing the model validation notice (MVN) on green paper remove the safe harbor?

Reg. F is silent regarding choices of color for paper notices. ACA recommends that members discuss this question with counsel in light of existing case law on this issue. Recognize, however, that whatever colors a debt collector chooses for paper and ink, and when considering all questions regarding font size, typeface, etc., the consumer disclosures on the MVN or on any validation notice–must be “clear and conspicuous,” meaning readily understandable and, for written disclosures, readily noticeable and legible to consumers. That said, the CFPB declined to dictate required font sizes, placement of disclosures, and the like. Furthermore, the entire communication must not be misleading. Find more guidance on this topic in the ACA Searchpoint #3024, “Letter Requirements: Colors, Fonts and Double-Sided Notices.”

For the purposes of credit reporting, if we have not spoken to the consumer about the debt either in person or by telephone, and we send a communication to the consumer, what length of time would be acceptable to assume the communication was received?

Fourteen days.  See the Official Comments to Reg. F 1006.30(a)(1)-22:

“Reasonable period of time. Section 1006.30(a)(1)(ii) provides, in relevant part, that a debt collector who places a letter about a debt in the mail, or who sends an electronic message about a debt to the consumer, must wait a reasonable period of time to receive a notice of undeliverability before furnishing information about the debt to a consumer reporting agency. The reasonable period of time begins on the date that the debt collector places the letter in the mail or sends the electronic message. A period of 14 consecutive days after the date that the debt collector places a letter in the mail or sends an electronic message is a reasonable period of time.”

If after mailing our MVN we wait 14 days and then credit report, but then later we receive a notice of undeliverability from the post office, must we delete/cease reporting so it falls off the consumer’s credit report?

No. Because you waited the period of 14 days which is defined in the Official Comments as a “reasonable period”, you are permitted to continue reporting the information unless or until the consumer disputes the tradeline, in which case the debt collector must follow the Reg. F procedures related to consumer disputes. Section 1006.30(a)(1)(ii) provides, in relevant part that “[a] debt collector who does not receive a notice of undeliverability during the reasonable period (14 days) and who thereafter furnishes information about the debt to a consumer reporting agency does not violate paragraph (a)(1) of this section even if the debt collector subsequently receives a notice of undeliverability.

The following example from the Official Interpretations illustrate the rule:

Example from Official  Interpretation for section § 1006.30(a)(1)(ii)

iii. Assume that, on May 1, a debt collector mails the consumer a validation notice as described in § 1006.34(a)(1)(I)(A). From May 1 to May 14, the debt collector permits receipt of, monitors for, and does not receive, a notice of undeliverability and thereafter furnishes information regarding the debt to a consumer reporting agency. After furnishing the information, the debt collector receives a notice of undeliverability. The debt collector has not violated § 1006.30(a)(1) and, without taking any further action, may furnish additional information about the debt to a consumer reporting agency.

When a collector sends subsequent communications to a consumer after the validation notice, does the collector have to itemize and use the same breakout that the collector used on the validation letter?

No. Reg. F is silent regarding any requirements for subsequent notices sent after the validation notice. Note, however, that collectors must still be aware of potential for overshadowing the validation notice when sending subsequent notices during the validation period.

Is there a risk associated with a collector being unable to identify which of the five itemization dates the collector used on the validation notice?

Yes. If a collector cannot identify which of the five  itemization dates  permitted under Sec. 1006.34((b)(3) that the collector used on the validation notice, (a) the collector risks losing the protection of the safe harbor which is afforded by using the MVN, and (b) the collector may have difficulty demonstrating how the collector reached any figures and calculations included on the validation notice, or the accuracy of such figures or calculations.

On the validation notice, how do you fit payment info on the front?

The MVN includes payment information (including the address to which the consumer can send payment; instructions for how to make out the check; a blank where the consumer can indicatethe sum the consumer is paying) on the bottom third of the model form.  See optional payment disclosures included in Reg. F at 1006.34(d)(3)(iii)

“(iii) Payment disclosures. Either or both of the following phrases: (A) The statement, ‘Contact us about your payment options.’, using that phrase or a substantially similar phrase; and

(B) Below the consumer-response information required by paragraphs (c)(4)(i) and (ii) of this section, the statement, ‘I enclosed this amount:’, using that phrase or a substantially similar phrase, payment instructions after that statement, and a prompt.”

Do you have to use the MVN?

No; it is an option available to you which offers the benefit of providing the safe harbor when a collector properly follows the options and requirements associated with the MVN.

Does Reg. F mandate what font size or format must be used on the validation notice?

No. Reg F does not specify required font sizes for validation letters, including for the Model Validation Notice (MVN). Per the Section by Section Analysis, the Bureau expressly declined to adopt specific standards for font size and disclosure placement in valdiation notices. But, consumer disclosures in a validation notice under Reg F remain subject to the new “clear and conspicuous” standard, which generally means they must be readily understandable and, in the case of written and electronic disclosures, “the location and type size” must be “readily noticeable and legible to consumers, although no minimum type size is mandated.”

Note that some state disclosures do require minimum type sizes for those state disclosures, but ACA remains unaware of any state or local law requiring a uniform type size, font, or typeface applicable to an entire letter (validation or otherwise). See the Section by Section Analysis as follows:

“(1) Clear and conspicuous means readily understandable. In the case of written and electronic disclosures, the location and type size also must be readily noticeable and legible to consumers, although no minimum type size is mandated. In the case of oral disclosures, the disclosures also must be given at a volume and speed sufficient for the consumer to hear and comprehend them.” Section 1006.34(b)(1).

Do we need to include the full mini-Miranda on every  communication sent to a consumer?

You must include the full mini-Miranda on the validation notice.  The full mini-Miranda is included in the model validation notice. See Model Form B-1 here:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/rules-policy/regulations/1006/2021-11-30/b/

The  full mini-Miranda on the MVN is worded as follow:

“If you look on the front of the notice, towards the top, across the entire notice, there is a prominent disclosure stating “North South Group is a debt collector. We are trying to collect a debt that you owe to Bank of Rockville. We will use any information you give us to help collect the debt.” (emphasis added).”

In subsequent communications you only need to include the statement that the communication is from a debt collecter.  However, many collectors do continue to include the full mini-Miranda on subsequent communications.

“(11) The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.”  Red. F at 1006.18(e)(1).

New Mexico now requires interest RATE. does this void the safe harbor?

The MVN includes payment information (including the address to which the consumer can send payment; instructions for how to make out the check; a blank where the consumer can indicate the sum the consumer is paying) on the bottom third of the model form.

With many collectors choosing to use the MVN, will consumers be confused regarding the identity of the collector that is attempting to collect a debt?  won’t it be confusing to the consumer regarding.

No, consumers should not be confused rgarding the identity of the collector that sent the notice because each notice must provide the name of the debt collector that is collecting the debt. Thus, while the format of the notice will be generally the same for all validation notices that follow the MVN, consumers should still be readily able to determine the identity of the debt collector that is attempting to collect the debt.

Because the MVN has limited space on the front, can we place the Important Consumer Notice (full mini-Miranda) on the back side of the letter?

No. If you move any required elements of the MVN to the reverse side  you risk losing the protection of the safe harbor. The MVN includes all elements required by the FDCPA and Reg. F  on the front of the notice. See Model Form B-1 here:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/rules-policy/regulations/1006/2021-11-30/b/

The model validation notice asks the debtor in Spanish if they want a copy of our letter translated into Spanish. Is it mandatory to include a Spanish advisement on our letters, as shown on the model validation notice?

No. The Spanish language disclosure listed under §§ 1006.34(d)(3)(vi)(A) and (B) of Reg. F is one of the optional disclosures in Model Form B-1, and therefor you are not required to  include it in the validation notice. Further, Reg. F does not require debt collectors to provide a Spanish language validation notice. As this is the case, listing the Spanish disclosure in cases where the debt collector does not intend to provide a translation of the validation notice would likely jeopardize the safe harbor provided under § 1666.34(d)(2) and could potentially violate Reg. F and the FDCPA, because this is an optional disclosure. See analysis at Section 1006.34(d)(3)(iv)(a); if you do not intend to provide the MVN in Spanish, you should remove the proposed Spanish statements.

In our validation notice, we include above the consumer’s name in the address area, (a) our USPS #Number used for electronic mail returns and address changes, and (b) our internal account number appears .  Does this revoke the safe harbor?

With respect to the USPS number, Reg. F does not explicitly address including this information on the validation notice.  Accordingly, you should consult with your attorney regarding whether including this information above the consumer’s address would render your validation notice substantially similar (in substance, clarity, and meaningful sequence) to the MVN, the standard you must meet to retain the safe harbor associated with  the MVN.

With respect to your “internal account number”, the MVN features a “reference code” which is an internal reference number located below the consumer’s address.  You should consult with your attorney regarding whether changing its position to above the consumer’s address would render your validation notice substantially similar (in substance, clarity, and meaningful sequence) to the MVN, the standard you must meet to retain the safe harbor associated with  the MVN.  See Reg. F at Sec. 1006.34(d)(2)(iii).

Is there a safe harbor for credit bureau reporting? How do we know the consumer did in fact receive the validation notice in order to be able to report to the bureau?

No. Reg. F does not include a safe harbor protection zone for credit bureau reporting.

Regarding how you know whether the consumer did in fact receive the validation notice, Reg. F does not require you to have confirmed that the validation notice was delivered before you can report the debt to the credit bureau. The Official Commentary for section 1006.30(a)(ii) explains that so long as the debt collector sends the notice and does not receive a notice of undeliverability during the reasonable period of time (deemed by the Bureau to be 14 consecutive days) the debt collector can thereafter furnish information about the debt to a consumer reporting agency without violating Reg. F, even if the debt collector subsequently receives a notice of undeliverability. See the Official Commentary at 30(a)(1)(ii) – Reasonable period of time, which includes several illustrative examples at the following location:  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/rules-policy/regulations/1006/2021-11-30/interp-30/#30-a-1-Interp-3-iii 

In an LCM, is it permissable to only use the first name of the natural person leaving the message?

Probably not. While the text of Reg. F states that the LCM must include “The name or names of one or more natural persons whom the consumer can contact to reply to the debt collector,” (see 1006.2(j)(1)(iii)) the examples provided by the CFPB both include the first and last name of the individual calling: “Hi/This is Robin Smith calling from ABC Inc….” See the official Commentary to 2(j)(1) and 2(j)(2). Accordingly, it appears prudent to include both the first and last name of the person leaving the LCM.

Does sending a letter count as a communication for the telephone call frequency limitation rule?

No. The call-frequency limitation rule (Reg F § 1006.14(b)(2)(i)) applies only to telephone calls. It does not apply to other communications, e.g., mailed letters or electronic communications.

How does a collector calculate telephone call frequency limitation when calling a consumer about unrelated acounts, e.g., medical and non-medical debt, or joint responsibility with another party for minor children or on lease agreements?

Reg. F provides a presumption that a debt collector calling a consumer no more frequently than seven times within seven days for a particular debt is presumed to be in compliance with Reg. F. Accrdingly, when accounts are unlinked, you only need to keep track of telephone calls you make for a particular account.

That being said, if your agent begins talking with a consumer about multiple debts, that call must be counted as one call for each of the several debts that is discussed. Therefore, you may want to develop policies and procedures enabling you to keep track of consumers who have multiple debts so that your calling system demonstrates you are not violating harassment standards under Reg. F and the FDCPA.

If a creditor uses two different agencies, can both be named in the email address disclosure?  (i.e. “We are transferring your account to Agency A or Agency B…”).

No. Reg. F does not allow for the notice from the creditor to list more than one debt collector. See, Section 1.006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1).

The Official Interpretation of § 1000.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1) explains that “[t]o satisfy this requirement, the notice must identify the name of the specific debt collector to which the debt has been or will be transferred” (emphasis added). This language does not allow for multiple debt collectors to be listed on the notice.

Additionally, the sample language noted below in the Official Interpretation of § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C) does not suggest an agency may list more than one debt collector.

When a creditor sends the notice in writing to a consumer, the creditor may use, but is not required to use, the following language: “We are transferring your account to ABC debt collector, and we are providing ABC debt collector with the following email address for you: [email address]. ABC debt collector may use this email address to communicate with you about the debt.” In conjunction with the requirement to name a specific consumer, this indicates the CFPB expects the collector to name the specific debt collector with whom the debt will be placed.  See Official Commentary for Section 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)-2.

Does Reg. F have specific requirements for the validation notice?

Yes. Reg. F provides the required information for the validation under Section 1006.34(c) which includes the standard 30-day validation rights to dispute the debt and/or request verification or the name and address of the original creditor that is found under Section 1006.34(c)(3). This is the same notice that debt collectors commonly refer to as the “validation notice” that debt collectors are required to provide to the consumer within five days of the initial communication with the consumer. The CFPB has also provided a Model Validation Notice under Reg. F. .

The section of Reg. F that sets out the required notice can be found here: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/rules-policy/regulations/1006/2021-11-30/34/

The Model Validation notice can be found here: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/rules-policy/regulations/1006/2021-11-30/b/

Or here: https://github.com/cfpb/debt-collection-files (editable version).

Is there any specific calling script to be followed to maintain compliance with Reg. F?

No. Reg F itself does not require a script, although collection agencies may want to amend existing scripts in light of any of a number of Reg F’s provisions, e.g., call-frequency limitations, asking for consumer communication preferences, seeking consent to email, etc.

What processes are going to be directly affected by Reg. F and how will they be affected?

You will need to update numerous processes. As some examples, Reg F will require you to make changes to your validation notice and your calling practices. Other aspects of your operations processes may be affected by provisions of Reg F that provide safe harbors, e.g., for electronic communciations. If you credit report, you will need to make changes to those processes. Talk to your legal counsel and your vendors to come up with a total game plan to ensure all your processes are ready to go by November 30, 2021 when Reg. F takes effect.

When tracking call frequency, if the consumer consents for us to call on another specific occasion, does that call count towards the call frequency limitation?

No, if that call is made within a seven-consecutive-day period which includes the occasion specified by the consumer. Per the FAQs released by the CFPB, “A person’s prior consent must be given directly to the debt collector and the calls must be placed within a period no longer than seven consecutive days after receiving the direct prior consent. That is, if a person gives direct prior consent for additional telephone calls about a particular debt to a debt collector, any telephone calls that the debt collector thereafter places to the person about that particular debt do not count toward the telephone call frequencies for a period of up to seven consecutive days. A person’s direct prior consent may also expire before the end of the seven-consecutive-day period. A person’s direct prior consent expires when any of the following occur:

(1) the person consents to telephone calls in excess of the telephone call frequencies for a period of less than seven days and such period has ended;

(2) the person revokes such direct prior consent; or

(3) the debt collector has a telephone conversation with the person regarding the particular debt. Comments 14(b)(3)(i)-2 and -3.”

Remember, when a person gives prior consent to the debt collector and within seven days the debt collector calls the person based on that consent, that consented-to-call does not count towards the call frequency limitation. That said, the debt collector may want to consider recording calls so as to retain a record of the consent and, additionally or alternatively, train agents to maintain notes in the agency’s compliance management system about the consent.  Note, too, that calls not connected to the dialed number do not count towards the call frequency limitation.

Regarding a consumer who had multiple dates of service covered in a single account, if a collector is itemizing the payment records in a validation notice, if the consumer has paid part of their account, does the collector need to provide the consumer with itemization only for those services for which the consumer still owes payment?

Yes. Reg. F does not require a debt collector to provide an itemization of a consumer’s entire account history. Rather, the debt collector only needs to provide the “itemization date,” the amount of the debt on the itemization date, and an “itemization of the debt.” This section of Reg. F is provided below along with relevant Official Interpretations and definitions. Based on this section of Reg. F,  the debt collector only needs to provide “[a]itemization of the current amount of the debt reflecting interest, fees, payments, and credits since the itemization date. “

Section 1006.34(c)(2) requires, in relevant part:

(vi) The itemization date.

(vii) The amount of the debt on the itemization date.

(viii) An itemization of the current amount of the debt reflecting interest, fees, payments, and credits since the itemization date (emphasis added). A debt collector may disclose the itemization on a separate page provided in the same communication with a validation notice, if the debt collector includes on the validation notice, where the itemization would have appeared, a statement referring to that separate page.

Section 1006.34(b)(3) of the definitions explains that the “itemization date” means any one of the following five reference dates for which a debt collector can ascertain the amount of the debt:

(i) The last statement date, which is the date of the last periodic statement or written account statement or invoice provided to the consumer by a creditor;

(ii) The charge-off date, which is the date the debt was charged off;

(iii) The last payment date, which is the date the last payment was applied to the debt;

(iv) The transaction date, which is the date of the transaction that gave rise to the debt; or

(v) The judgment date, which is the date of a final court judgment that determines the amount of the debt owed by the consumer.

Official interpretation of Paragraph 34(b)(3)(i).

1. Last statement date. Under § 1006.34(b)(3)(i), the last statement date is the date of the last periodic statement or written account statement or invoice provided to the consumer by a creditor. For purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(i), the last statement may be provided by a creditor or a third party acting on the creditor’s behalf, including a creditor’s service provider. However, a statement or invoice provided by a debt collector is not a last statement for purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(i), unless the debt collector is also a creditor.

Official interpretation of Paragraph 34(b)(3)(iii).

1. Last payment date. Under § 1006.34(b)(3)(iii), the last payment date is the date the last payment was applied to the debt. A third-party payment applied to the debt, such as a payment from an auto repossession agent or an insurance company, can be a last payment for purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(iii).

Official interpretation of Paragraph 34(b)(3)(iv).

1. Transaction date. Section 1006.34(b)(3)(iv) provides that the itemization date may be the date of the transaction that gave rise to the debt. The transaction date is the date that the good or service that gave rise to the debt was provided or made available to the consumer. For example, the transaction date for a debt arising from a medical procedure may be the date the medical procedure was performed, and the transaction date for a consumer’s gym membership may be the date the membership contract was executed. In some cases, a debt may have more than one transaction date. This could occur, for example, if a contract for a service is executed on one date and the service is performed on another date. If a debt has more than one transaction date, a debt collector may use any such date as the transaction date for purposes of § 1006.34(b)(3)(iv), but the debt collector must use whichever transaction date is selected consistently, as described in comment 34(b)(3)–1.

Official interpretation of 34(b)(3)

  1. In general. Section 1006.34(b)(3) defines itemization date for purposes of § 1006.34. Section 1006.34(b)(3) states that the itemization date is any one of five reference dates for which a debt collector can ascertain the amount of the debt. The reference dates are the last statement date, the charge-off date, the last payment date, the transaction date, and the judgment date. A debt collector may select any of these dates as the itemization date to comply with § 1006.34. Once a debt collector uses a reference date for a debt in a communication with a consumer, the debt collector must use that reference date for that debt consistently when providing the information required by § 1006.34(c) to that consumer. For example, if a debt collector uses the last statement date to determine and disclose the account number associated with the debt pursuant to § 1006.34(c)(2)(iv), the debt collector may not use the charge-off date to determine and disclose the amount of the debt pursuant to § 1006.34(c)(2)(vii).

When leaving a telephone voicemail, can debt collectors use an automated message? What about TCPA considerations?

Yes. Reg. F does not require the use of a live agent for voicemail messages, including for a “limited content message.”

The CFPB has stated in its FAQs, “The Debt Collection Rule does not prohibit a debt collector from using a pre-recorded message to leave a limited-content message. However, there are requirements in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (47 U.S.C. § 227) regarding the use of pre-recorded messages that a debt collector may want to review before leaving a pre-recorded message.”

If we call a consumer, get an answering machine, but do not leave a message, is that considered a contact?

Yes, for the purposes of counting call frequencies.  Here is why: If the call connects with an answering machine, it must be considered “connected”; a call that is “not connected” does not fall within the definition of what is counted; accordingly, a call that is “connected” must be counted as a contact. But for the purposes of disclosure requirements, because the debt collector did not leave a message, there is no obligation to leave a disclosure.

Section 1006.2(b), defines “attempt to communicate” as “any act to initiate a communication or other contact about a debt with any person through any medium, including by soliciting a response from such person.  An attempt to communicate includes leaving a limited-content message…”

Under the provision for “Telephone call frequencies; presumptions of compliance and violation” at 1006.14(b)(3), “Telephone calls placed to a person do not count toward the telephone call frequencies described in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section if they are: (ii) Not connected to the dialed number.”

For the purposes of call frequncy limits, In its Reg. F FAQs, the CFPB has provided multiple examples of various situations in which a call must be counted.

Telephone calls that are not connected to the dialed number are excluded from the telephone call frequencies. 12 CFR § 1006.14(b)(3). Thus, a telephone call counts toward the telephone call frequencies if it connects to a dialed number, unless the call is otherwise excluded as discussed in Debt Collection Telephone Call Frequency: Excluded Calls Question 1.

The following are examples of telephone calls that connect to a dialed number:

– The telephone call causes a telephone to ring at the dialed number, but no one answers the call.

– The telephone call causes a telephone to ring at the dialed number, but the call does not connect to a voicemail.

– The telephone call causes a telephone to ring at the dialed number, but the debt collector hangs up before anyone answers the call or the call connects to a voicemail.

– The telephone call is connected directly to a voicemail, even if the telephone does not ring and even if the debt collector is not able to leave a message.

  • The telephone call is answered, even if the telephone call subsequently drops.

For the purposes of call frequency limits, does it count if someone calls in to our office during off-hours and hears the office voicemail greeting?

No. Only calls placed by the debt collector to a particular person in connection with a debt count for the purposes of call frequency limitations. A consumer hearing a message does not constitute as a conversation.

With respect to disclosure requirements, do we need the mini- Miranda on the outgoing voicemail we have at the office of our debt collection agency?

While Reg. F does not explicitly require the mini-Miranda be included on the outgoing voicemail message, it has become common for many debt collectors to include this language. Whether to include the mini-Miranda disclosure on your voicemail message greeting for incoming calls is a business practices decision you must make in consultation with your risk, compliance, and legal team.

If we call a number and find it is not in service, is that an “attempt to communicate” ?

No. If a debt collector attempts to call a number and learns the number is not in service, such calls do not constitute an “attempt to communicate” as that term is defined with respect to the call frequency limits. “1006.14(b)(3)(ii) Certain telephone calls excluded from the telephone call frequencies.  Telephone call place to a person do not count toward the telephone call frequencies described in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section if they are: …not connected to the dialed number.”   The Reg. F FAQs issued by the CFPB explicitly list include as an example of “telephone calls that do not connect to a dialed number” this item:

– The telephone call results in a message that the call cannot be completed as dialed or the dialed number is out of service.

If a collector reaches a consumer’s answering machine and chooses not to leave the LCM or any other message, is that considered an “attempt to communicate”?

Yes, it is an attempt to communicate, not a communication.  But, for the purposes of the call frequency limitation analysis, whether a call is a communication or attempt to communication does not matter.  The Reg. F rule regarding telephone call frequency limits pertains to calls only, not attempts to communicate.

If collector leaves a voicemail message that is more than the LCM – is that a “communication”?

Yes. Remember, the LCM was created as a safe harbor enabling collectors to attempt to contact consumers and leave a basic voice message without triggering the obligation arising under the FDCPA to provide mini-Miranda and to avoid the risk of a the message inadvertent being overheard by a third party. If you include an additional information in a voicemail message that is not required or permitted by the LCM rules, you lose the safe harbor protection provided via Reg. F for the LCM.

If a collector knows that the consumer is employed, does it violate Reg. F to contact the consumer’s employer in an attempt to verify employment?

It depends on whether you are contacting the employer pre or post judgment. Contacting an employer pre-judgment to verify employment could be considered a per se violation of the FDCPA.  Accordingly, you should not contact an employer to verify employment except to effectuate a post-judgment remedy, including serving a garnishment. The FDCPA generally only permits a collector to contact  third parties of a consumer if the collector is attempting to obtain location information of the consumer including the place of their employment.  See Section 1692(b).

Pre-judgment, a debt collector should only contact a consumer’s employer to verify the consumer’s location, which by definition includes the consumer’s place of employment. Rule 106.10, Acquisition of location information, defines the term “location information” to explicitly include a consumer’s “Place of employment.”  The text of the rule, provides  “A debt collector communicating with a person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information must: (1) Identify himself or herself individually by name, state that he or she is confirming or correcting the consumer’s location information, and, only if expressing requested, identify his or her employer; (2) Not state that the consumer owes any debt…” P. 572. The basis for the rule is 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(b) (2006) [§ 805(b)].

For additional information on the topic of employment verification, consult the following ACA SearchPoints

#1135, “Employment Verification: When is it Permitted?”

#2067, “Third Party Communications”

Would employment verification be considered  a communication?

Yes, employment verification is an attempt to communicate (if the collector does not reach the employer) or it is a communication in connection with collection of a debt, regardless of whether the employment verification is done via phone, email, or by other method. If the contact is for the purposes of a post-judgment wage garnishment, it is permitted under 1692(c)(b).

A debt collector should not call an employer pre-judgment for any purpose beyond determining the consumer’s location informtion. A debt collector may contact a consumer’s employer to verify the consumer’s location, which by definition includes the consumer’s place of employment.  Because this call is being made to a third party, it does not fall within the definition of an attempt to communicate for the purpose of determining call frequency, so long as the debt collector does not state that the consumer owes debts.

Rule 106.10, Acquisition of location information, defines the term “location information” to explicitly include a consumer’s “Place of employment.”  The text of the rule, provides  “A debt collector communicating with a person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information must: (1) Identify himself or herself individually by name, state that he or she is confirming or correcting the consumer’s location information, and, only if expressing requested, identify his or her employer; (2) Not state that the consumer owes any debt…” P. 572

If a borrower hasn’t consented to social media platform, can we use that for skip tracing?

Possibly, so long at the location information is publically available. However, if you send a consumer a “friend” or “social” request for the purpose of communicating about a debt, however, courts have held such a communication misrepresents your purpose and so violates the FDCPA. See Section 1006.18(d).

Per the CFPB’s Section by Section Analysis of Reg. F, “First, given the purpose of social media platforms marketed for social or professional networking purposes, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, a consumer who receives a “friend” or “connection” request on such a platform would take away from the request that the requester is interested in a social or professional networking relationship. This consumer takeaway would be false if the request is from a debt collector in connection with the collection of a debt, and this false claim may cause the consumer to accept a request that the consumer otherwise would not have accepted. Such deceptive means of engaging with the consumer violate § 1006.18(d).”

https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_debt-collection_final-rule_2020-10.pdf 

If a debtor says, “you can only call me from 3-5 pm”, do we need to only call during that time from now on?

Yes. You could ask the consumer to clarify, such as by asking “do you mean weekdays only? Could we call you during these as well as other hours on the weekend?”

Be sure to document accurately the consumer’s response so you can demonstrate you only called when appropriate. Rule 1006.6(b)(i) Communications in connection with debt collection provides “a debt collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt; (i) at any unusual time, or a time that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer.” P. 566. You may see a variety of examples of communications addressing the issue of whether the consumer communicated that a time was inconvenient at Comment 6(b)1, p. 600 of the Commentary.

If the consumer said, “don’t call me at work”, can a collector call a consumer during business hours on the collector’s cell phone?

No. If a consumer told a collector not to call the consumer during business hours, the collector must not call the consumer during business hours, whether the collector uses a business phone number for the consumer, or a mobile phone number for the consumer. Ideally, when the consumer stated that the collector should not call the consumer at work, the collector should take the opportunity to seek to clarify what times would not be business hours for the consumer.

Rule 1006.6(b)(i) Communications in connection with debt collection provides “a debt collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt; (i) at any unusual time, or a time that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer.” P. 566. You may see a variety of examples of communications addressing the issue of whether the consumer communicated that a time was inconvenient at Comment 6(b)1, p. 600 of the Commentary.

Can a consumer opt out verbally or in writing?

Yes. The Rules provide explicit information regarding opt out procedures for email communications.  Rule 1006(d)(4)(ii)(C)(4) provides an email communication by a collector must include “Instructions for a reasonably and simple method by which the consumer could opt out of such communications.”  Page 570. Per Comment 6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(4), the notice must “clearly and conspicuously disclose instructions for a reasonable and simple method by which the consumer can opt out of the debt collector’s use of the email address to communicate about the debt.”

The Commentary includes several examples to illustrate a “reasonable and simple method” that meets the requirements of the rule, such as the following: “Including a reply form and a pre-addressed envelope ; If the creditor’s notice is sent electronically, providing an electronic means to opt out such as a hyperlink, or allowing the consumer the consumer to opt out by replying to the communication with the word ‘stop.’ ” Commentary, page 612. The Commentary also provides examples that fail to constitute a “reasonable and simple method, such as the following: Requiring a consumer to call or write to obtain a form for opting out; Requiring a consumer who receives the opt-out notice electronically to opt out by postal mail, telephone, or visiting a website without providing a link.  Interpretation, pages 612-613. Note also, the commentary advises regarding the procedure required to impose a date. Under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(5), the notice must clearly and conspicuously disclose the date by which a debt collector or creditor must receive a consumer’s request to opt out, which must be at least 35 days after the date the notice is sent. The notice may instruct the consumer to respond to the debt collector or to the creditor but not to both.  Interpretation page 613.

Section 1006.6(d)(5)(i) of the rule addresses procedures for telephone numbers for text messages, and 1006.6(e) details the process for providing opt out: “(e) Opt-out notice for electronic communications or attempts to communicate. A debt collector who communicates or attempts to communicate with a consumer electronically in connection with the collection of a debt using a specific email address, telephone number for text messages, or other electronic-medium address must include in such communication or attempt to communicate a clear and conspicuous statement describing a reasonable and simple method by which the consumer can opt out of further electronic communications or attempts to communicate by the debt collector to that address or telephone number. The debt collector may not require, directly or indirectly, that the consumer, in order to opt out, pay any fee to the debt collector or provide any information other than the consumer’s opt-out preferences and the email address, telephone number for text messages, or other electronic-medium address subject to the opt-out request.”  Rules page 572.

The Bureau decided to not finalize opt out procedures for text communications. “As discussed in the section-by-section analysis of Section 1006.6(d)(5)(i), the practice of reassigning telephone numbers increases the risk of third-party disclosure when a debt collector sends a text message to a telephone number…although the Bureau is not finalized notice-and-opt-out or prior-use safe harbor procedures for text messages, the Bureau notes that the final rule does not prohibit debt collectors from communicating with consumers by text message outside of the safe harbors.”  Introduction page 205.

If a consumer states their communication preferences and they are methods which an agency doesn’t use (email, text, social media), could an agency continue to communicate by phone if the consumer doesn’t explicitly state “don’t call me” ?

Perhaps yes, technically, but it would definitely be prudent to ask a follow up question to clarify if you can continue to communicate by phone.

Rule 1006.14 regarding Harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct, explicitly forbids such conduct.  “Communication media designations. Section 1006.14(h)(1) prohibits a debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with a person in connection with the collection of any debt through a medium of communication if the person has requested that the debt collector not use that medium to communicate with the person. The debt collector may ask follow-up questions regarding preferred communication media to clarify statements by the person.”  Official Interpretation, page 639. “3. Examples. The following examples illustrate the prohibition in § 1006.14(h)(1). i. Assume that a person tells a debt collector to “stop calling” the person. Based on these facts, the person has requested that the debt collector not use telephone calls to communicate with the person and, thereafter, § 1006.14(h)(1) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with the person through telephone calls. ii. Assume that, in response to receipt of either the opt-out procedures described in § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii) or the opt-out notice in § 1006.6(e), a consumer requests to opt out of receiving electronic communications from a debt collector at a particular email address or telephone number. Based on these facts, the consumer has requested that the debt collector not use that email address or telephone number to electronically communicate with the consumer for any debt and, thereafter, § 1006.14(h)(1) prohibits the debt collector from electronically communicating or attempting to communicate with the consumer through that email address or telephone number.  Official Interpretation, page 640.

Can you provide a sample of a LCM?

The rule itself provides two examples of LCMs. This one includes the required content only:

“This is Robin Smith calling from ABC Inc. Please contact me or Jim Johnson at 1-800-555-1212.”

This second example includes the required content AND the optional content:

“Hi, this is Robin Smith calling from ABC Inc. It is 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, September 1. Please contact me or any of our representatives at 1-800-555-1212 today until 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, or any weekday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern time.”

Does the MVN conflict with mini-miranda?

No. The MVN contains the full mini-Miranda disclosure.

If we put anything on the second page of the validation notice other than itemized information for multiple accounts, would that other information fall outside the safe harbor?

Yes. Anything collectors put on a second page of the validation notice, including itemization of account information, falls outside the safe harbor. While information falling outside the safe harbor does not necessary violate Reg F, you lose the benefit of the presumption created by staying within the safe harbor.

Does a collector have to license or register any DBA that we intend to use?

You must meet the requirements of any state in which you operate regarding DBAs.

Can we use a DBA in a state that don’t allow use of a DBA?

No. You must meet the requirements of any state in which you operate.  Accordingly, if a state in which you operate doesn’t permit the use of a DBA, and your current legal name identifies you as a debt collector, then to leave an LCM you must change your legal name to a business name that does not indicate that you are in the debt collection business.  For more information, see the ACA SearchPoint #2018, “Use of Aliases.”

Does ACA have a list of states that do not allow DBAs?

Yes. The best contact at ACA for this topic would be the Licensing Division of our Risk Management Department. [email protected] or (952) 926-6547. For more information, see the ACA SearchPoint #2018, “Use of Aliases.”

We can either (a) not record calls or (b) record calls and keep the records for 3 years, correct?

Yes.  While that is the requirement under Reg F, rmember that some states have record retention requirements that are longer than 3 years. Check those requirements before you destroy your records. For more information, see the ACA SearchPoint #2037, “State Record Maintenance Requirements.”

If sending a validation notice using a consumer’s e-mail supplied by a creditor, would the requirements for the creditor to notify the consumer in writing and observe the 35-day revocation option still apply?

No. You can use the consumer’s email.  Per Section 1006.42, Sending required disclosures, “(a) Sending required disclosures. (1) In general. A debt collector who sends disclosures required by the Act and this part in writing or electronically must do so in a manner that is reasonably expected to provide actual notice, and in a form that the consumer may keep and access later.”

We do not have to respond to duplicative disputes, regardless of whether they are submitted to us directly from a consumer or from a third party on behalf of a consumer?

While you do not have to investigate true duplicative disputes, regardless of whether the duplicate dispute was submitted by a consumer or a third party on behalf of a consumer, for every such duplicative dispute you receive within the 30 day validation period, you must notify the consumer that you are not investigating further because you believe they have raised a duplicative dispute. You must provide this response to every such duplicative dispute that you receive within the 30 day validation period. Although you do not have to respond in any way to duplicative disputes received after the 30 day validation period, may agencies do respond to validation requests received after the 30 day validation period out of a courtesy to the customer.

Per Reg. F Section 1006.38, “(1) Duplicative dispute means a dispute submitted by the consumer in writing within the validation period that:

(i) Is substantially the same as a dispute previously submitted by the consumer in writing within the validation period for which the debt collector already has satisfied the requirements of paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section; and

(ii) Does not include new and material information to support the dispute.

Notice

Model Validation Notice

The new Model Validation Notice provided by Reg. F contains required and optional elements. Compare the original version from the CFPB with different annotated versions to aid you in determining what to include on your validation notice.

MVN – ORIGINAL FROM CFPB, UNANNOTATED

MVN – ANNOTATED BY CFPB

MVN – ANNOTATED BY ACA

MVN – CFPB WORD VERSION

MVN – CFPB SPANISH VERSION