Skip to main content

Communications to Collect a Debt

Jonathan Foxx
Dec 03, 2015

Question: Recently, we were cited by our regulator for not stopping our communications in our debt collection efforts. Apparently, we violated a regulation that requires us to stop such communications at a certain point. When should we stop communicating with a borrower for debt collection purposes?

Answer
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), once a debt collector receives written notice from a consumer that either the consumer refuses to pay the debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector must cease communicating with the consumer with respect to such debt. [15 USC § 1692c(c)]

Note that the term “consumer” includes the consumer’s spouse, parent (if the consumer is a minor), guardian, executor, or administrator. [15 USC § 1692c(d)]

Notification is effective upon receipt by the debt collector. Due to the strict liability standard of the FDCPA, the debt collector will generally be liable for any communication sent after the date of receipt, even if the debt collector has no actual knowledge of the request.

Issues will arise under the applicable provision with respect to what constitutes a valid written notice from the consumer, or whether a consumer’s subsequent communication to the debt collector waives the prior request to cease communication. One suggestion is to use the “least sophisticated consumer” standard, as courts have used this standard in interpreting the FDCPA; that is, courts will liberally interpret a notice to be valid and will uphold a consumer’s rights despite communications that appear to waive the request to cease communication.

Also note, issues may arise with respect to multiple debts owed by a consumer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has weighed in on this subject. According to the FTC, a consumer who requests that communication be ceased with respect to a previous debt, must repeat that request in connection with a subsequent debt being collected by the same debt collector. [Atteberry, FTC Informal Staff Letter, 12/30/77]



Jonathan Foxx is president and managing director of Lenders Compliance Group, Brokers Compliance Group, Servicers Compliance Group and Vendors Compliance Group, national companies devoted to providing regulatory compliance advice and counsel to the mortgage industry. He may be contacted by phone at (516) 442-3456, by e-mail at [email protected] or visit www.LendersComplianceGroup.com.

Published
Dec 03, 2015
CFPB Names 4 To Key Senior Positions

The appointees include two who helped create the bureau and two who served on the CFPB staff during the Obama administration.

Regulation and Compliance
Oct 14, 2021
FHFA Raises Enterprises' Multifamily Loan Purchase Caps

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said the 2022 multifamily loan purchase caps will be $78 billion for each Enterprise, for a combined total of $156 billion to support the multifamily market.

Regulation and Compliance
Oct 13, 2021
CFPB Hits AAG With Complaint For Deceptive Marketing Of Reverse Mortgages

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a complaint and proposed consent order, which alleges that American Advisors Group (AAG) used inflated and deceptive home estimates to attract reverse mortgage consumers.

Regulation and Compliance
Oct 12, 2021
Waterstone Mortgage Names VP Of Compliance

Waterstone Mortgage Corporation named Kris Barros as the company's vice president of compliance.

Community
Oct 08, 2021
Battling The ‘Giant Purple Snorklewacker’

The confirmation of Rohit Chopra as CFPB director has the mortgage industry anxious, but former MBA CEO David Stevens offers some advice: follow the rules.

Regulation and Compliance
Oct 08, 2021
The Compliance Contradiction

Staunch compliance stances often lead to contradictory actions.

Regulation and Compliance
Oct 06, 2021