When it issued Regulation F, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau did not just issue a set of rules that debt collectors absolutely needed to follow. While much of what is included in Regulation F sets forth requirements that are mandatory, the CFPB also gave collectors some latitude to put their own mark on how to collect debts from individuals. In the latest episode of “You Wanted a Rule, You Got a Rule,” John Bedard of Bedard Law Group discusses some of those optional disclosures, which collectors may choose to include in the validation notices they send to individuals. The CFPB included eight such optional disclosures, which can be added to validation notices and not eliminate the safe harbor protections that are being made available to collectors should they opt to use the regulation’s model validation notice (MVN). In this episode, Bedard tackles the first four optional disclosures: telephone contact information, a reference code, payment disclosures, and disclosures under applicable law.
Collectors are not required to include their telephone number on the MVN, but may choose to do so, and may include the hours at which it will accept phone calls at that number, Bedard said.
Collectors may also include a reference code to identify the debt or the consumer, and the rule “does not prohibit a debt collector from using the account number as the reference code,” Bedard said.
Bedard also discusses the two types of payment disclosures that can be added to the MVN without losing the regulation’s safe harbor. Watch the video for a breakdown of how and where these disclosures can be included in the MVN.
The final category of optional disclosures discussed by Bedard in this episode are disclosures under applicable law, which Bedard notes is “more complex” than the other categories. This includes disclosures made on either the back or the front of the MVN. Bedard also discusses the importance of following the way the MVN directs consumers to the back of the notice if the collector has included additional disclosures on that side of the page.
If using any of the optional disclosures, collectors should look at the sample MVN released by the CFPB and place the optional disclosures in the same location as they are on the sample.
Check out all the episodes in the series here: You Wanted a Rule, You Got a Rule. You will also find links on that page to subscribe to the audio version of the series through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. Like what you see? Be sure to reach out to John and let him know!