CFPB Debt Collection Rule Resource Guide

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Section 1006.22 Unfair or unconscionable means

  • (a) In general. A debt collector must not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt, including, but not limited to, the conduct described in paragraphs (b) through (f) of this section.
  • (b) Collection of unauthorized amounts. A debt collector must not collect any amount unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “any amount” includes any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation.
  • (c) Postdated payment instruments. A debt collector must not:
    • (1) Accept from any person a check or other payment instrument postdated by more than five days unless such person is notified in writing of the debt collector’s intent to deposit such check or instrument not more than ten, nor less than three, days (excluding legal public holidays identified in 5 U.S.C. 6103(a), Saturdays, and Sundays) prior to such deposit.
    • (2) Solicit any postdated check or other postdated payment instrument for the purpose of threatening or instituting criminal prosecution.
    • (3) Deposit or threaten to deposit any postdated check or other postdated payment instrument prior to the date on such check or instrument.
  • (d) Charges resulting from concealment of purpose. A debt collector must not cause charges to be made to any person for communications by concealment of the true purpose of the communication. Such charges include, but are not limited to, collect telephone calls and telegram fees.
  • (e) Nonjudicial action regarding property. A debt collector must not take or threaten to take any nonjudicial action to effect dispossession or disablement of property if:
    • (1) There is no present right to possession of the property claimed as collateral through an enforceable security interest;
    • (2) There is no present intention to take possession of the property; or
    • (3) The property is exempt by law from such dispossession or disablement.
  • (f) Restrictions on use of certain media. A debt collector must not:
    • (1) Communicate with a consumer regarding a debt by postcard.
    • (2) Use any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by mail, except that a debt collector may use the debt collector’s business name on an envelope if such name does not indicate that the debt collector is in the debt collection business.
    • (3) Communicate or attempt to communicate with a consumer by sending an email to an email address that the debt collector knows is provided to the consumer by the consumer’s employer, unless the email address is one described in § 1006.6(d)(4)(i) or (iii).
    • (4) Communicate or attempt to communicate with a person in connection with the collection of a debt through a social media platform if the communication or attempt to communicate is viewable by the general public or the person’s social media contacts.
  • (g) Safe harbor for certain emails and text messages relating to the collection of a debt. A debt collector who communicates with a consumer by sending an email or text message in accordance with the procedures described in § 1006.6(d)(3) does not violate paragraph (a) of this section by revealing in the email or text message the debt collector’s name or other information indicating that the communication relates to the collection of a debt.

[For more perspective on the unfair or unconscionable means of collecting, provided by Rozanne Andersen of Ontario Systems, please click here.]

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