Limited content posts and your company name



On October 30, 2020, the CFPB published its pending amendment to Regulation F (“the rules”) to implement the FDCPA. These rules cover many topics, including email and SMS communications, time, place, and subject communication restrictions, record keeping requirements, and the long-awaited solution to the infamous. Foti problem – voicemail messages. But is CFPB’s solution to the voicemail problem really a solution for companies whose names suggest they are in the debt collection business?

In response to overwhelming industry support for a legal solution, the CFPB came up with a solution to the old Foti problem for debt collectors. (As a reminder, the problem is, what can a debt collector say on voicemail without violating the FDCPA’s requirement to provide certain information to consumers while respecting the FDCPA’s ban on non-disclosure? allowed to a third party in the event that someone other than the consumer hears the message?) The CFPB solution is a newly born creature called a “limited content message”.

The rules define a “message with limited content” as a voice message for a consumer which contains:

  1. The business name of the debt collector (as long as the name does not indicate that the business is engaged in debt collection)
  2. A request that the consumer responds to the message
  3. The name of one or more natural persons that the consumer can contact to respond to the message
  4. One or more phone numbers that the consumer can use to respond to the message

In addition, the message may include the following:

  1. A greeting
  2. The date and time of the message
  3. Suggested dates and times for the consumer to respond to the message
  4. A statement that if the consumer responds, the consumer can speak to any of the representatives or associates of the business.

If a voice message left by a collection agent for a consumer contains the required elements (1 to 4) and all or part of the authorized elements (5 to 8) AND NOTHING ELSE, the message will not be considered as a “communication. Under the law and the debt collector will not violate any third party disclosure bans if a third party hears it or for failing to disclose that the call is from a debt collector. To take advantage of this provision, the debt collector can not identify the consumer or refer to an “account”.

The CFPB provided sample messages as follows:

Robin Smith is calling from ABC Inc. Please call me or call Jim Johnson at 1-800-555-1212.

Hi. Robin Smith is calling from ABC, Inc. It is 4:15 pm Wednesday, September 1st. 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

The limited content message seems like a good solution, but what if your business name indicates that the business is in the debt collection business? The Bureau attempts to answer this question, but does not fully appreciate the impact of its suggestion. Recognizing the problem faced by companies whose names reveal their debt collection purpose, the Bureau suggests that these debt collectors could adopt a trade name such as – d / b / a – that does not reveal their business function. as debt collection. It sounds simple – but it isn’t.

Changing your business name or adopting ad / b / a is quite complicated and would require a debt collector to change many aspects of their consumer business. Whether it is letters, messages, scripts or credit reports, the change of company name or the adoption of ad / b / a would force the debt collector to effectively change his identity in front of the consumer. In addition, trade names must be registered in many jurisdictions. The adoption of ad / b / aa also has licensing implications. Many states that required collectors to be licensed prohibit such holders from using a name other than the one on their license to engage in regulated collecting behavior. Therefore, asking your licensing regulator to approve ad / b / a would be an additional hurdle that a collector must overcome to avoid using their company name as evidence of claims. The difficulties do not end there.


How do you know if your company name indicates that the company is active in debt collection? And, by what legal standard will this question be answered? The Rules are silent on the answers to these important questions. For most company names, the rule is not difficult to apply – ABC Collection Agency, Inc., Consumer Account Collections, LLC, Debt Recovery Corporation – these names, even for the less sophisticated consumer, could reasonably be expected. indicate that the companies are in debt collection. Business. In the opposite extreme, names like Zephyr, Inc., Atrium International, LLC, or Black Rock Industries Corporation don’t even give the slightest indication of the nature of the business that each one conducts. But what about names like Account Solutions, Inc., Recovery Specialists, LLC, Financial Solutions Corp., Credit Alliance, LLC, Creditors Protection Group, Inc.? Do these names indicate the nature of these businesses as debt collection? Is the least informed consumer the reference to answer this question? The Bureau offers no answers to these difficult questions.

Big problem – what if a business is wrong about its name revealing its debt collection business? What are the real consequences of an incorrect answer to the question? The answer to this question is clear: the message left by a debt collector whose name reveals their debt collection activity will not be considered a limited content message under the rules and therefore will not benefit from the protection offered by the rule to debt collectors who leave. Messages with limited content. Indeed, the new rules do not provide any solution to the Foti problem for these debt collectors.

At the end of the day, debt collectors face some tough questions, not only about compliance, but also about leaving messages. Why leave messages? The answer to this The issue is not found in any government rule, but rather lies in the data already in the possession of each debt collector. Savvy debt collectors will very carefully analyze their call data for callback rates, right contacts, minutes spent paying expensive labor to talk to machines, and a host of other metrics to get the job done right. Business decision whether or not to leave messages, including the limited content message.



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