In the latest episode of “You Wanted a Rule, You Got a Rule,” John Bedard of Bedard Law Group finishes walking through his analysis and breakdown of the eight optional disclosures that collectors are allowed to include on their copies of the Model Validation Notice and still enjoy the safe harbors provided to them under Regulation F from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The optional disclosures that Bedard talks about in this episode are: information about electronic communications, Spanish-language translation disclosures, if a merchant brand, affinity brand, or facility name, if any, is associated with the debt, and information if the debt being collected is not a consumer financial product or service.
The most important components of this area of the Model Validation Notice likely deal with the electronic communication provisions of the optional disclosures, which allow collectors to include the address to their website, should the consumer want to check it out to learn more about the collector. There have been questions about what website address collectors should use — the address to their corporate website or the address to their payment portal, where consumers can often learn more about their debt and even file disputes or requests for creditor information, in some cases. One important note to consider, Bedard says in the episode, is that whatever website a collector opts to use, the content of the website becomes the content of the letter or notice that is sent to the individual, for purposes of complying with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Collectors have “to be very very careful about overshadowing, about false representations, about all of the things that you would not otherwise include in any letter — much less a validation notice — when it comes to putting website addresses on your letters, or at least your validation notice letter to a consumer,” Bedard says.
Collectors who include email addresses in their communications also have to make sure they are monitoring those inboxes and treating anything they receive from a consumer as an inbound communication, Bedard says.
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!