The CFPB's just published FAQ covers limited-content messages and telephone call frequency as they relate to compliance with The Debt Collection Rule. Of course, your compliance department needs to know about and understand the new expectations. But wait! This FAQ will absolutely affect your collections strategy, too.
Don't just forward the guidance to your compliance department without a second thought. Understanding the expectations under the new rule will be key to building your strategy going forward.
Building strategies post-Reg F will be experimental for most companies. But understanding the requirements like these is a job for every department, including operations. It is the first step in crafting strategies that not only maximize collections, but minimize your risk.
On limited-content messages, what you need to know:
- A voicemail can be labeled a limited-content message, and therefore only an attempt to communicate, if it is left for the consumer and includes the required and optional content in The Debt Collection Rule.
- A voicemail becomes a communication if it conveys “information about a debt, directly or indirectly, to any person through any medium.”
- Pre-recorded voicemails are not prohibited by The Debt Collection Rule (but check the TCPA before you make a decision on this one)
- A Zortman message is not a limited-content message.
Why does it matter?
When building your outbound strategy, especially as it relates to voicemail messages (and your decision to leave them, or not), consider those key components. There’s nothing wrong with integrating traditional or ringless voicemails into your strategy (especially since people often don’t pick up phone calls from unknown numbers), but make sure you are either taking the limited-content route, or be prepared to count your voicemails in your call caps.
On call frequency, what you need to know:
- A debt collector is “presumed to violate the prohibition against continuous phone calls or conversations” if: 1. The debt collector calls more than seven times within seven consecutive calendar days (about the same debt), or 2. Within a period of seven consecutive calendar days after having a telephone conversation with the person in connection with the debt
- Inbound calls from consumers don’t count, unless there is a conversation about the debt.
- These limitations only apply to telephone calls (but that doesn’t mean you have free reign - contact other than telephone calls could still be considered harassing, oppressive, or abusive).
Why does it matter?
The CFPB's guidance on call frequency will have a clear impact on many strategies.
Why? Because you must ensure the phone numbers you are dialing actually belong to, and are used by, the consumer you’re trying to reach. This might mean engaging with a vendor to help you target the right information. What's more, if you’re not already, you should consider alternative outbound methods, like SMS or email, that drive inbound calls in order to reduce your risk in exceeding the call frequency caps.
Erin Kerr is Director of Content for iA Strategy & Tech - a digital resource for collections strategy executives - and the Executive Director of the iA Innovation Council. She is a seasoned receivables management professional, with recent experience in digital strategy and a passion for crafting digital solutions for a better customer experience.