The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has released formal recommendations for how recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) will be implemented—and the mortgage industry should take note.
Back in May, the FCC announced it would exempt government debt collection from the TCPA rule, allowing loan, mortgage, tax and other debt collectors to use autodialing and “modern dialing” technologies to reach customers underwater. Previously, the rule severely limited how collectors could contact these customers, requiring them to have express consent before calling any debtor on their cell phones through any means.
Violating this rule came with high stakes, too. Collectors faced $1,500 infraction fees, class-action suits, and other legal penalties. But now, that all may be changing.
Under the new Bipartisan Budget Act, collectors no longer need this express consent, but the FCC can still limit the frequency and duration of debt collection calls. These limitations, along with other recommendations for TCPA implementation, were covered in an FCC Consumer Advisory Committee meeting June 10.
The committee has officially recommended the following limitations be put in place in order to protect consumers under the new and changing TCPA:
- Collectors must have a documented rational for believing a particular phone number belongs to a debtor;
- Calls can only be made to the debtors themselves, not family, friends, or employers;
- Rules should apply to both text messages and cell phone calls;
- Calls must be linked to delinquent or defaulted debt and no telemarketing messages should be allowed;
- Consumers can request calls to stop and must be notified of this right;
- Calls should only be made between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.; and
- Calls must be related to debts owed to the United States and debts sold to third-parties would not apply.
According to ACA International, a resource for creditors and collection professionals, exempting government debt collectors from the TCPA rule will have little impact on the consumer or debt payback.
The company said on its website: “The straightforward exemption created by Congress will have very little practical impact in fostering the communication between consumers and debt collectors that is critical to promote the repayment of federal government debt, or in reducing liability for government debt collectors who contact consumers on their mobile telephones using modern calling technology.”
Click here to view the recommendations.