The CFPB has answered the burning question of how many collection calls is too many. Starting November 30, 2021, seven calls within seven consecutive days is the limit.
More collection calls than that constitutes prohibited harassing conduct. And harassing conduct violates the Fair Debt Collection Act.
Remember that the FDCPA governs the conduct of debt collectors collecting for the original creditor. The original creditor can, lawfully, call more often.
Unless you live in California, where the Rosenthal Act makes the protections of the FDCPA apply to the original creditor, too.
The background and text of the new collection rule appears here.
Collection calls include email
The new rule also expands its coverage of collection calls to include electronic communication such as email and texts. So, regardless of the medium, seven is still the limit.
Additionally, the consumer must be afforded a “reasonable and simple” way to opt out of communications at a particular phone number or email address.
The consumer must also be able to place a “do not contact” request through that method of communication. So, if the debt collector contacts you by text message, you can exercise your right not to be contacted about the debt via text.
Violations have consequences
The FDCPA provides that a debt collector who violates the law may have to pay the affected consumer
- physical and emotional distress,
- financial loss,
- statutory damages, and
- attorneys fees for enforcing rights under the law.
Key to any action by a consumer against a debt collector is evidence. That means that if you think your rights are being violated, or may be violated, keep a record. Write down the day, time, and content of each contact with a debt collector.
Take note of your physical and emotional reaction to the call. Record if the debt collector’s actions interfere with your family or work life.
These detailed and contemporaneous records will lend substance to any claim for damages you make under the FDCPA.
Look at the big picture
If you are subject to multiple debt collection efforts, it may be time to consider a global remedy for your financial situation. Stress is deadly and is not to be underestimated as a health risk.
Consider making an appointment with a financial counselor (not a debt settlement organization) for some input as to your options. Bankruptcy attorneys also have a wealth of experience looking at finances with an eye to whether there is a non bankruptcy option.
Be proactive to deal with your debts.