In an effort to further improve the debt collection experience for consumers, TrueAccord filed comments in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Notice of Proposed Debt Collection Rulemaking. Our experience using mostly email to communicate with consumers about their debts gives us the unique ability to provide detailed feedback to the CFPB on the parts of the Proposed Rule that impacts the use of email, data science, and machine learning in debt collection.
We know that consumers in debt collection benefit from both email communications and machine learning technologies. Email communications allow consumers to access content at their convenience (including emails that contain legally required disclosures); new machine learning technologies provide additional information and payment options based on the consumer’s interactions to further personalize their collections experience.
What are we suggesting?
Make the transition into collections communication simpler
When emailing a consumer, either an initial communication—one containing the validation notice in the body—or any communication relating to the debt, a debt collector should be able to contact that consumer at the email address that the consumer provided to the creditor.
The proposed rules do not currently provide this option without causing an undue burden on consumers. TrueAccord highlighted that unnecessary restrictions in the proposal greatly limit the ability to communicate with consumers via email. Consumers who have already provided their preference for electronic communications to their creditor(s) would be forced to take extra steps because they have fallen into collection.
Define and properly evaluate email as a unique medium
Our customers regularly tell us that email is very different from phone calls and even paper mail. As such, email communications warrant different treatment under the FDCPA and should not be subject to the standard time, place, and manner restrictions that were designed for and apply to primarily oral communications.
TrueAccord asked the Bureau to take this opportunity to further modernize the FDCPA by distinguishing that certain provisions do not apply to email.
Recognize other, optional forms of electronic communications as legitimate
We raise concerns over the proposed definition of “attempted communication” and “limited content message.” The current proposed definitions have the unintended consequence of limiting digital advertising and other electronic messages that consumers can opt-in to receive.
What is our goal?
TrueAccord’s suggested changes will increase the proposed rule’s ability to make collections more efficient, provide actual notice to consumers, give consumers immediate access to information, and enable consumers to control how they want to communicate.
The debt collection proposed rulemaking is an opportunity to empower the vast majority of consumers who prefer to communicate electronically. The Bureau must take advantage of this opportunity.