The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) prohibits debt collectors from engaging in abusive, harassing, and unfair debt collection practices. However, since, this law was passed many years ago, it doesn’t address modern communication methods, such as text messages and emails. In late 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) took steps to address this issue by amending a rule that implements the FDCPA to clarify how debt collectors may use these modern communication methods to contact customers. In this article, we examine whether this amendment allows debt collectors to text or email customers.
Debt Collectors Can Text and Email Consumers
Pursuant to the amendment discussed above, debt collectors are permitted to send texts and emails to consumersto try to collect a debt. And although the rule that allows debt collectors to text and email customers doesn’t explicitly cap the number of messages a debt collector may send, the FDCPA prohibitions discussed below apply to electronic communications, including texts and emails.
FDCPA Prohibition on Harassing, Abusive, and Oppressive Conduct
The FDCPA forbids harassing, abusive and oppressive conduct—regardless of the kind of communication method the debt collector uses. Therefore, in addition to in-person and telephone interactions, debt collectors may not excessively contact customers via text and email in violation of the FDCPA.
Time and Place Restrictions
In addition to its prohibition on harassment and abuse, the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from contacting customers at unusual or inconvenient times or places. Calls placed before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. by debt collectors are presumed to be inconvenient. However, since everyone has a different schedule, the FDCPA allows customers to set limits on debt collection communications to reflect their preferences. In order to do so, a customer may simply tell the debt collector when it is inconvenient for him or her to receive debt collection calls and communications.
Opting Out of Electronic Communications
Finally, a debt collector who corresponds with a customer by text, email, or other electronic method must include information regarding how the customer can opt out of further electronic correspondence to that telephone number or email address. This requirement applies to specific telephone numbers, email addresses, and other electronic addresses, such as social media names or accounts.
Contact a California Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense Attorney
If you have been served with a debt collection lawsuit (or threatened with a lawsuit), you should contact an experienced California debt collection lawsuit defense attorney. When you contact the Fullman Firm, we will advise you on the proper course of action based on your unique situation. At the Fullman Firm, our lawyers are passionate about fighting for the rights of consumers. Therefore, when you come to us for help, we will do everything possible to ensure that your situation has a successful result. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.