Debt collection rule should avoid impacts on 1st party collectors

September 18, 2019

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should avoid impacts on first-party debt collectors in its rulemakings, CUNA wrote to the CFPB Wednesday in response to its proposal on debt collection. The proposal would make certain amendments to third-party debt collector rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FCDPA).

“CUNA opposes a debt collection final rule that could result in FDCPA requirements intended for third-party collectors to be applied to first-party collectors, either directly or indirectly; and we urge the Bureau, as it promulgates its first substantive rulemaking under the 42-year old FDCPA, to carefully consider the broad impact its rule will have on consumers and the operations of third-party collectors and seek to limit disruption to this critical function,” the letter reads.

Though the rule is not intended to apply directly to credit unions collecting their own debts, CUNA made several substantive recommendations to improve the rulemaking, including:

  • Modernizing debt collection communications by accounting for and permitting greater use of electronic technologies, and recommending the CFPB streamline the rule’s electronic disclosure requirements;
  • Clarifying that the ability for debtors to opt out of electronic communications is specific to only that method of communication;
  • Thoroughly and properly study the permissible number of call attempts allowed for collectors to ensure effective communication is not needlessly hindered;
  • Addressing several issues with the “Limited-Content Message” provision that CUNA believes currently limit its usefulness;
  • Clarifying that providing information on how debtors can request non-English disclosures does not obligate the debt collector to provide future communications in that language; and
  • Recognizing the complexity of state debt collection laws relative to time-barred debt and adopt a “knowledge” standard for determining prohibited communications. 

CUNA also urged the CFPB to coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission to ensure the debt collection rule is not undermined by actions taken at the FCC that could limit the effectiveness of mobile communications and the ability to financial entities to reach consumers.