Here are tips to manage your operations from scouring policy and procedures to developing a disclosure matrix. Use this refresher of best practices as you manage your operations due to agent turnover or challenges coming into compliance.
Social media contact? Included, ready-to-mail debt validation notices? With the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule, effective November 2021, collections as we knew it changed. It took years of deliberation and over 14,000 conversations before change approval. And now the new rule is in place for the foreseeable future. How has your organization faired with the changes? This debt collections reference guide covers key elements of the rule to consider and actions to take to position you for success.
Written debt validation notices are now required to include a “tear-off” form. Gone are the days of needing separate letters. Consumers can simply return the available form provided with the debt validation notice to dispute the debt’s validity. To dispute the debt or the account balance or any account matter, today’s consumer completes the form to initiate the dispute process.
What should you do? Review Process and Procedures for Clarity and Consistency
Of course, you must closely monitor disputes volumes for spikes that the new form may drive. But also, you should properly organize and maintain your processes and procedures. This is a priority. If disputes volumes require additional staffing, you’ll need available, accurate documentation to maintain consistency and provide support for process enhancement strategies.
In addition to traditional phone contact, customers may now be contacted via text, email or social media platforms, allowing for new, modern channels for communication. New and improved ways to reach consumers sounds good. However, debt collection entering the digital arena brings new risks. How do you ensure that you offer and honor opt-outs? How do you control the posting of public collections messages via social media platforms These are just a few areas that need proper controls to ensure ongoing customer contact compliance.
What should you do? Create and Provide Ongoing Training
In addition to systemic controls, you must train staff to properly engage and accommodate customer contact requests. This training is critical to mitigating contact violations. Review training material and evaluate communication monitoring routines to account for the new available channels of communication.
Previously, debt collectors needed to limit the number of calls made about a specific debt to no more than 7 times total during a 7-day period. The CFPB’s rule adds clarification about calls going directly to voicemail. These calls are counted as a contact by phone attempt toward the 7 times in 7-day period.
It’s important to note that this requirement applies specifically to phone attempts and does not include text, email, or social media. However, you must maintain a proper balance of attempts per available channel to prevent excessive contact attempts.
What should you do? Assess Existing Call Strategies and Multiple Account Activity
Despite the new rule’s specific account level applicability, it’s important to consider consumers with multiple relationships. Be mindful of action taken on each account towards that full relationship to prevent potential contact violations. Collectors should have the ability to apply notes to all related accounts at once to ensure contact with consumers about related account debt are well documented. This prevents inappropriate contact attempts following calls.
Voicemail messages left for outstanding debt should be limited in nature and cannot convey the attempt to collect a debt. Simply said, limited-content messages left for unavailable customers should be short and sweet, consisting of the following:
What should you do? Stick to the Script
Provide scripted messages to agents. Including a sample of messages left by staff within total collector calls monitored monthly. This mitigates risks associated with inconsistent messaging. Also, you can deliver proper feedback to agents to prevent any future occurrences.
As before the new rule, you must include statements about being from a debt collector and being about a debt. But now, disclosures must include details about the debt and consumer protections, including the right to dispute the debt and to request information about the original creditor. Additionally, before furnishing information to National Consumer Reporting Agencies, the rule requires that debt collectors take specific steps toward disclosure of existing consumer debt. These steps include:
What should you do? Closely Review Disclosures
Review existing disclosures for confirmation of content to ensure compliance with the new rule. Your current inventory should be assessed to identify and document potential gaps resulting from the rule changes to initiate efforts to revise your content.
Upon confirmation of compliant content, consider implementing a method to systemically document proof of disclosure delivery if this action is performed manually in the current state.
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We’ve shared this high-level debt collections reference guide to help you get new employees up to speed, or even overcome compliance challenges. We can also seamlessly improve your collections process. With experience leading all components of collections services, our services provide for minimal disruption to your day-to-day operations, while providing maximum benefit to your desired outcomes.
Contact us and together we can help with guiding your collections and recovery activities into the future!
Reference Info for a Deep Dive into the Rules and Regulations: