Section 1006.22 of Regulation F — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s debt collection rule — is the section that suffers from a bit of a technology identity crisis, but still includes some new wrinkles in laying out the kinds of behavior that are prohibited when attempting to collect on unpaid debts. In the newest episode of “You Wanted a Rule, You Got a Rule” John Bedard of Bedard Law Group walks through the technology timeline and identifies the potential problem areas that could get collection agencies in some hot water.
Section 1006.22 of Regulation F mentions everything from collect calls to postcards to emails, which basically sounds like how people communicated while on vacation for the past 50 years while also addressing different ways that collectors may seek to get in touch with consumers about unpaid debts.
This section of the rule — and of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — is one that plaintiffs use often when filing lawsuits against collection agencies. Many of the lawsuits in recent years related to what is included on collection envelopes and what can be seen through the windows on envelopes fall under this section of the rule, Bedard notes during his analysis. One interesting wrinkle in this section is that the CFPB said it is ok for collectors to include symbols or language that assists the United States Postal Service in making sure that the delivery of the letter is accomplished. Intelligent barcodes, for example, are allowed on envelopes without violating the prohibitions against unfair or unconscionable conduct, Bedard said.
This section also covers communicating via email using a consumers work email address.
“So sending email to a [place of employment] email address is unfair and unconscionable unless the consumer uses that email to communicate with the debt collector, or you have the prior consent of the consumer to use that email address for purposes of collecting debt, or the debt collector has obtained that email address from a prior debt collector who has either gotten the email address from the consumer or as the consumer has consented to to using that email address,” Bedard explains in the video. “You’re not allowed to send email to a consumer at their place of employment unless you have followed the procedures for obtaining a bona fide error defense when it comes to communicating with consumers.”
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