Due to foreclosure and eviction moratoriums, voluntary forbearances, or the influx of government stimulus, the anticipated wave of creditor actions as a result of the pandemic have been held at bay. This slowdown has provided an opportunity to sharpen our skills. I was recently listening to a discussion of the FDCPA—and other similar consumer protection statutes—becoming a boon for consumer attorneys while not providing much relief to the consumer. This is mainly because technical violations of the statutes create the cause of action but do not cause actual harm to the consumer. My colleague, Mike Schwegler, has also written about the CFPB’s Final Rule Implementing the FDCPA in the 21st Century (with the change in administration, the final rule from the CFPB has been paused for additional review). In his article, Mike discusses the modernization of the rules which may lead to more technical violations. Some of the changes will include:
- Increased limitations on how often and who can be contacted by a debt collector;
- Requiring an opt-out option for consumers contacted electronically;
- Permitting consumers to elect the medium for communications;
- Extending the FDCPA’s general prohibitions to apply to emails and text messages; and
- Redefining what information must and may be included in a voicemail for a consumer; and
Staying on top of these changes can be daunting, but if you fail to maintain good practices, you run the risk of being the test case for interpreting the new rules from the CFPB.