Section 1006.14b Call Frequency Caps
The following perspective was provided by Stacy Rodriguez of Actuate Law.
Section 1006.149(b) establishes frequency limits for outbound telephone calls and telephone conversations. While it is an improvement to finally have a bright-line compliance rule, even the CFPB acknowledged that the call limits it selected “could make it harder to reach consumers and delay or reduce collections revenue.” Clients in the receivables industry have agreed that these limits are expected to dramatically reduce the effectiveness of collection campaigns that currently rely on high-frequency outbound calls for penetration.
The CFPB’s clarifying comments, however, provide an oft-overlooked roadmap for the successful disruption of the traditional call-based collection model. For FDCPA purposes, “placing a telephone call … does not include sending an electronic message (e.g., a text message or an email) that may be received on a mobile telephone.” Cmt 14(b)1. While a collective communications campaign (calls, emails, texts, letters) still must adhere to reasonable limits to avoid harassment, a single text or email may have a greater impact than a single outbound call attempt. Calls often go unanswered, with no message ever reaching the consumer, but the content of a text or email is likely to be viewed (and at a time the consumer finds convenient to review messages), even if ultimately deleted. While the CFPB Rules are light on guidance for the development of a fully-compliant electronic communications campaign, they do clarify that consumer consent is the safest path. The most successful debt collection agencies will spend the next year not only developing compliance systems to track and limit the frequency of outbound calls and conversations, but also developing consent-capturing strategies to assist with the launch of supplemental text message and email campaigns.