The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently finalized rules that would allow agents of the federal government to skirt consumer debt collections laws when collecting debts owed to the government.
The FCC is the agency appointment by Congress to administer the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which regulates how consumers may be contacted via phone call, text message, fax, or email.
The rules will allow debt collectors to use autodialers, which are strictly regulated by the TCPA, when the calls are made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States. The rules will not affect debt collectors pursuing other types of debt.
These tyeps of collection calls will only be allowed when either the consumer is delinquent on a federal debt, like a student loan, or when delinquency is imminent; i.e., when there is a time-sensitive event like the end of a grace period or forbearance.
Additionally, these rules will also only apply when the federal government currently owns the debt. When the debt has been sold to a third-party collector, all of the normal rules under the TCPA will apply.
The rules also specify that debt collectors may still only use autodialers or robocallers to contact the people who are legally responsible for the federal debt, like the debtor and any co-signors. The debt collector cannot contact anyone else, like a reference or witness to the debt, with automated collection calls. Finally, the law allows for only three non-consensual automated calls per month, and the content of these calls must be solely about the debt—no advertising or marketing for other services is allowed.
The new rules may result in additional communications for people who owe money to the federal government. Specifically, people whose student loans or mortgages are backed by the government may start receiving additional automated phone calls. However, consumers should keep in mind that they still have the right to request that automated calls and recorded messages stop, regardless of the new rules. In the event that the consumer opts out of these messages, the regular TCPA debt collection rules will apply.
With all of the rules regarding when and how a debt collector can contact a person who owes money, it can be hard to tell if a debt collector is violating the law. At Loan Lawyers, our knowledgeable South Florida debt defense attorneys can review your claims free, and will let you know what your legal options and rights are.To schedule your free consultation, contact Loan Lawyers today by calling (888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813).