CFPB Releases FDCPA Final Rule with 10 Key Changes

Walker White

December 8, 2020

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its final rule for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act on October 30, 2020.  The release of the rule promises to bring substantial changes in consumer debt collections practices.  The rule becomes effective one year after its date of publication, or November 2021.

In the meantime, here is a summary of 10 key changes that you can expect from this rule.  Please visit the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for more detail.

1.  Communication for debt collection

For purposes of this section, the term “consumer” includes consumer’s spouse, parent (if the consumer is a minor), guardian, executor, or administrator.  There are specific updates on who, what, where and when you can communicate with consumers and third parties.  In addition, there is a section on the circumstances on when a debt collector needs to cease communication.

2.  Harassment or abuse

A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, six examples of conduct that are a violation of this section are provided.

15 USC 1692e

3.  False or misleading representations

A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, there are 16 points on conduct that are violations.

15 USC 1692f

4.  Unfair practices

A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, this section describes eight examples of conduct that is a violation.

15 USC 1692g

5.  Validation of debts

This is a detailed description of new processes for

  • Notice of debt, contents
  • Disputed debts
  • Admission of liability
  • Legal pleadings
  • Notice provisions

15 USC 1692h

6.  Multiple debts

If any consumer owes multiple debts and makes any single payment to any debt collector with respect to such debts, such debt collector may not apply such payment to any debt which is disputed by the consumer and, where applicable, shall apply such payment in accordance with the consumer’s directions.

15 USC 1692i

7.  Legal actions by debt collectors

Any debt collector who brings any legal action on a debt against any consumer shall abide by the specific venue rules outlined in this section.

15 USC 1692j

8.  Furnishing certain deceptive forms 

It is unlawful to design, compile, and furnish any form knowing that such form would be used to create the false belief in a consumer that a person other than the creditor of such consumer is participating in the collection of or in an attempt to collect a debt such consumer allegedly owes such creditor, when in fact such person is not so participating.

Any person who violates this section shall be liable to the same extent and in the same manner as a debt collector is liable under section 1692k of this title for failure to comply with a provision of this subchapter.

15 USC 1692k

9.  Civil liability 

This section outlines the civil liability of any debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of this subchapter.  It provides details on…

  • Amount of damages
  • Factors considered by court
  • Intent
  • Jurisdiction
  • Advisory opinions of Bureau

15 USC 1692l

10.  Administrative enforcement

This section gives detail on compliance and enforcement as it pertains to:

  • The Federal Trade Commission
  • Applicable provisions of law
  • Agency powers
  • Rules and regulations

15 USC 1692m

This is a high level summary of the new rule, please visit the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for more detail.


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