Public Announcements

 

TCPA Update from AAHAM National

Our lobbyist, Paul Miller sent the following TCPA update today, please feel free to pass it on to your chapter and colleagues. 

The Federal Communications Commission issued its final rule on the handling of automated federal debt collection calls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) last week.  The rule, which will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, implements the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

The act created an exemption from the TCPA prior express consent rules for calls and text messages “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.”

New requirements include:

  • Debt collection calls and/or texts will fall under the exemption for federal debts if the consumer is delinquent at the time the call is made, or at an imminent risk of delinquency as a result of the terms or operation of the loan program itself, and in the 30 days before such an event; and
     
  • The exemption only applies to existing debts for which the United States is currently the owner or guarantor of the debt. Note that the FCC did not clarify which federal debts are included or excluded from coverage.

In addition, federal debt collection calls and texts:

  • May only be made to the consumer or another person or entity legally responsible for paying the debt;
     
  • Must only be about the debt in question, as any marketing content will transform the call into a non-exempt telemarketing call;
     
  • May only be made to one of three categories of wireless telephone numbers:
    • The wireless number the debtor provided at the time the debt was incurred, such as on the loan application;
       
    • A wireless number subsequently provided by the debtor to the owner of the debt or the owner’s contractor; or
       
    • A wireless number the owner of the debt or its contractor has obtained from an independent source, provided that the number actually is the debtor’s telephone number.
       
    • Are limited to 3 federal debt collection calls in a 30-day period. In addition, pre-recorded or artificial voice calls cannot exceed 60 seconds and text messages cannot exceed 160 characters;
       
  • Can only be made between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., of the called party’s time zone; and
     
  • Can only be made by the federal government or its contractor.

Consumers also have the ability to stop federal debt collection calls at any point, and debtors may make this request to the caller.