One of the greatest concerns that debt collectors have when it comes to sending emails is the risk of a third-party disclosure violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. For example, there are people who share email accounts and if a collector sends an email to that address and the wrong person sees it, that’s a violation. As well, many people have their phones, computers, and tablets notify them when they receive an email and those alerts can be seen by anyone who happens to be looking at the device when the notification is made.
Those circumstances, and others, have kept many collectors from sending emails. So when it released its debt collection rule, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau included a safe harbor protecting collectors from third-party disclosure violations under the FDCPA when sending emails. But there are specific steps that need to be followed in order for collectors to be able to invoke the Bona Fide Error defense. In this episode of “You Wanted a Rule, You Got a Rule” John Bedard of the Bedard Law Group walks through those steps to make sure everyone understands what needs to be done.
“I think this Bona Fide Error here is going to be one of the most useful rules for the debt collection industry,” Bedard said. “And I think it’s going to be also one of the most difficult to take advantage of. And only time will tell, and I think economics are going to tell whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits or the benefits outweigh the costs.”
There are three ways — and three ways only — that a collector can obtain the email address in question in order to be eligible to invoke the Bona Fide Error defense, Bedard notes. Those are:
- Obtaining the email address from the consumer
- Obtaining the email address from the creditor
- Obtain the email address from a collector that had the account previously
This particular section of the rule is important, Bedard said, because “it paves the way” for collectors to eliminate “almost 100%” of their postage costs.”
See all the videos in this important series, and access the podcast of each episode via Apple, Google, and Spotify by clicking here.