Among the provisions of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s debt collection rule that has the potential to be the most problematic with which to comply is the limitations that are being placed on the number of communication attempts and the number of conversations that collectors can have with consumers. Under the classification of eliminating conduct the consequence of which may be considered to be harassing, oppressive, or abusive, the CFPB established limits on phone calls and phone conversations between collectors and consumers. It is important, therefore, for collectors to understand what is and what is not allowed and the exceptions that are included in the rule.
In this episode of “You Wanted a Rule, You Got a Rule,” John Bedard of Bedard Law Group starts to break down Section 1006.14 of the rule, which is where the CFPB opted to address the call frequency limits. The limits, though, are not black and white; there are a number of exceptions that would allow collectors to make more than seven call attempts and have more than one conversation in a seven-day period. For example, Bedard notes, if a collector receives consent from a consumer to call back and have another conversation or to make an eighth call attempt in a seven-day period, collectors can do so. But there are limits on how to make those extra calls, which Bedard explains in the video below.
There are also exceptions as to the types of debt that fall under the 7-in-7-in-7 limits, and how collectors can handle situations where individuals have more than one debt placed with an agency.
It is also important to understand the legal principles at work in how the provisions of the rule are being applied, Bedard explains. This includes what is known as a “legal presumption” or a “rebuttable presumption.”
A legal presumption is equivalent to having a “strong legal position” on a particular topic, Bedard explains. If a collector has a legal presumption, then the other side of a lawsuit against a collector has a legal burden to provide evidence that the presumption is not true. “So the reason why that’s a strong legal position to be in is because the person with the presumption gets to sit back and benefit from a legal presumption, and it’s the other party that has to prove that the presumption doesn’t exist,” Bedard said. “The reason why that’s important when we talk about harassing phone calls, is because the Bureau has created a legal presumption for debt collectors, when it comes to call frequency. A debt collector is presumed to comply with the rule against harassing, oppressive, and abusive telephone calls if they do certain things. If the debt collector does not place more than seven telephone calls, in seven consecutive days, to the same person recording the same debt, well, then the debt collector is presumed to comply with the rules against harassing phone calls.”
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