The CFPB had proposed delaying the original effective date by two months to allow additional time for supervised entities to comply, but decided the extension was unnecessary based on public comments.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s original effective date for the final debt collection rule (Regulation F) has been finalized as Nov. 30, 2021.

In its proposal earlier this year to delay the effective date, the CFPB stated that it proposed the extension in response to the ongoing “societal disruption” caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and to allow stakeholders additional time to review and implement the rule.

However, the CFPB said it has “now determined that such an extension is unnecessary” and that the public comments generally did not support an extension, according to a news release.

“ACA appreciates that the bureau listened to concerns raised in our comments highlighting that the proposed delay would not effectively address any concerns raised about compliance burdens in the rule, and it did not align with our actions taken by the bureau in response to the pandemic,” said ACA International’s Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey.

With the official compliance date in mind, health care providers working with collection agencies as their business associates should ensure they’re on the same page about text message and email requirements under Reg F.

As explored in the March issue of Pulse, three core areas of Reg F compliance are the definition of “consumer,” limited content voicemail and call frequency.

Definition of ‘Consumer’

CFPB Definition of a Consumer
CFPB Definition of a Consumer

Deceased consumers leaving debts behind are now included in the definition of “consumer.”

This means when you have an account where the consumer has died, you will need to determine if a survivor can work with you to resolve the debt. The FDCPA allows debt collectors to communicate with certain family members and legal representatives.

Remember, you cannot demand payment from survivors. The payment must come from the deceased consumer’s assets.

Limited Content Voice Mail

CFPB Limited Content Voice Mail
CFPB Limited Content Voice Mail

Leaving voicemail messages can sometimes lead to third-party disclosure. To help us reach consumers and protect the consumer’s privacy, the CFPB has designed a script template called “Limited Content.”

There are certain things that debt collectors will be able to say but nothing more. Follow your new script exactly and practice it until it becomes routine. Do not add or change anything in your new script without your manager’s approval.

Frequency

CFPB Frequency
CFPB Frequency

The new rule says that a debt collector cannot call a consumer more than seven times in a seven-day consecutive period for each debt. After having a conversation with a consumer about a particular debt, the debt collector cannot call the consumer again about that debt for seven consecutive days.

If you’re thinking, “What if…” you’re not alone! There are a lot of complicated issues with this new rule and as such, it’s important to rely on your compliance and training team for guidance. Dialing systems will help.

Keep accurate notes for each call. Remember to indicate any requests from the consumer to contact them in a different way or at a more convenient time or place.

The CFPB will consider additional guidance for debt collectors, including those that service mortgage loans, as necessary, and continue to work with all market participants to ensure a smooth and successful implementation.

The entire ACA team is excited to prepare members for these historical changes to the FDCPA. Set your coordinates for ACA Education and Events for new lessons on how to prepare for the rules. Visit acainternational.org/events for Core classes, Hot Topics, ACA Huddles and more to keep you moving forward in 2021.

ACA has also created an educational video series, ACA How: Reg F Implementation, to help you prepare for Reg F compliance: https://www.acainternational.org/about/reg-f



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