Ensuring Regulatory Compliance While Future-Proofing Your Collections Strategy

By on September 2nd, 2021 in Compliance, Industry Insights, Webinars
TrueAccord Blog

Ensuring regulatory compliance in debt collection is a high stakes and increasingly complex process. As we know, the industry is constantly evolving and collections strategies must adapt.

At the end of July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that the final rules issued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) will take effect as planned on November 30. The new rules focus on the time, place, and manner of debt collection communications, the expansion of those communications through digital means, and enhanced disclosures that collectors must provide consumers with at the beginning of collection communications.

To help explain and analyze the new rules, TrueAccord recently hosted a webinar featuring two members of our in-house legal team: VP Legal & Compliance, Kelly Knepper-Stephens and Associate General Counsel, Katie Neill.

You can check out the full webinar on-demand, but key takeaways to listen for include:

  • Regulation F outlines the first-ever guidance for digital communication efforts in collections – effectively giving the green light to make alternative collection efforts more mainstream. The rule explicitly outlines email and SMS communication but also includes language for digital outlets that might not be in use for collections today or even in existence yet – a nod to social media and consumers willingness to be contacted privately on those platforms.
  • Furthermore, the rule does not change the federal law as it relates to consent to email. No consent is required to send debt collection emails, just like no consent is required to make calls or send letters. 
  • “The devil is in the details for Regulation F;” the implementation of each new provision turns on the Bureau’s explanation in the preamble and examples in the comments.  Legal and compliance teams should be the engine that makes sure the organization is in compliance with this guidance when the rule takes effect later this year.
  • Unlike regulations in regards to phone-based collections, there is no cap on outreach frequency in digital communications like email. This is because consumers and email providers self-regulate the communications frequency – collectors must design deliverability carefully to be successful, and if collectors email without a self-imposed cap their communications will be marked as spam or not delivered. 
  • As a digital-first collections agency, TrueAccord is ahead of and prepared for the guidance that will be put in place at the end of November. As a leader in this style of collections, TrueAccord leveraged a lot of data and consumer preference insights to help inform these new rules. The issuance of Regulation F is a significant validation by the top financial services regulator of TrueAccord’s business model.

Inaugural Advisory Committee Meeting of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) Prioritizes Tech Innovation, Consumer Communication

By on August 24th, 2021 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

On July 28, the debt collection advisory committee of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), whose mission is to better protect California consumers, promote responsible innovation, reduce regulatory uncertainty for emerging financial products and increase education and outreach to vulnerable groups, held its inaugural meeting. TrueAccord cofounder, Ohad Samet, who is one of seven founding committee members, joined to set priorities and kick off the committee’s activities. 

Samet’s voice on the committee, which is made up of a cross-section of industry experts from lawyers to academics to executives, brings his nearly two decades of experience in implementing technological and machine learning practices in fintech and debt collections, as well as the consumer preferences and trends uncovered through TrueAccord’s data-focused and more consumer-friendly approach to collections. 

“We’ve been able to find a way, as part of the Consumer Advisory Board of the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), to meet with consumer advocates and more traditional industry players to find that space where, if we serve consumers effectively using tech and we find alignment, everyone wins,” said Samet in his opening remarks of the meeting. “It allows consumers to be served well and industry players to be able to operate in a way that is actually cost-effective and appreciated by everyone involved. I hope to bring that type of forward- and consumer-focused thinking in the collections space to the DFPI. Through use of tech, consumer research, listening to what consumers want and aligning with them at scale, we can make the world a better place. I really think this can be the result of our work here.”

Some common themes of the committee’s inaugural discussion were documenting the life cycle of consumer debt, technological solutions and making sure the DFPI understands those processes, according to California DFPI Senior Deputy Commissioner and the debt collections advisory committee program lead, Suzanne Martindale. Discussion also prioritized consumer communication best practices, licensing requirements, and how research can help support the DFPI’s mission

“Introducing tech and consumer focus into the debt collection process is a lot more than sending an email and hoping for the best. It’s bringing in the best practices from e-commerce combined with consumer research,” Samet remarked. “Consumers want to pay their debt when they’re able to do so and when it’s done in a way that’s convenient for them. We’ve seen a spike in online activity from consumers actively looking for ways to negotiate or learn more about their debt – which on one hand is encouraging and on the other hand is critical to understanding how we offer a path for these consumers to engage in a way that they feel is good for them.”

Though the goal of this first meeting was to develop next steps and action items for future sessions, members agreed that DFPI research on consumer communications and preferences would be helpful to shape how the consumer advocates and debt collectors can work together. On this front, Samet will contribute insights garnered throughTrueAccord’s current business practices and core values.

“Consumers feel at a disadvantage on the phone because they are not as equipped with negotiation skills or knowledge of the law as the collector on the other side. They want to default to digital, asynchronous communications so they can think between the beats of back and forth,” said Samet. “All of TrueAccord’s activity has been heavily slanted towards allowing consumers to engage on their own terms as much as possible. When you bring e-commerce and tech practices to debt collections, it leads to more productive conversations, more proactive communications, more expectation for choice in mode of interaction and more requests for customization.”

The formation of the debt collection advisory committee was announced in April in order to provide critical feedback to the DFPI as it stands up its debt collection licensing program at the beginning of 2022.

To watch the entire first meeting of the debt collection advisory committee of the California DFPI, click here.

Building a Digital-First, Third-Party Collections Solution with Snap Finance

By on August 13th, 2021 in Industry Insights, Machine Learning, Product and Technology

In 2019, Todd Johnsen, Snap Finance’s Senior Manager of Collections Vendors, was charged with doing something that had never been done at Snap before: developing a third-party collections program. According to Johnsen, “At that time, the only recovery program for charge-off accounts was a call-and-collect settlement at tax season. I knew we could do better, but we’d have to start from scratch.” Johnsen also found a large amount of backlog accounts that had never been worked by a collections agency, as well as the need for a forward flow third-party recovery program.

Johnsen and team surveyed their options: they looked at both traditional agencies (predominantly making outbound calls) and digital-first collections solution providers, like TrueAccord. Johnsen was particularly interested in how digital-first providers like TrueAccord used machine learning to optimize their relationships with consumers via digital channels like email, SMS, and push notifications. 

“My thought process was — we work with subprime consumers who may have bad associations with debt collection,” said Johnsen. “This audience may have already had experiences with incessant collection phone calls, and they are used to avoiding them. I wanted to find an agency that was doing things differently. I knew that TrueAccord was using technology and digital channels in a way that other providers weren’t.”

While Johnsen was curious about working with a digital-first agency like TrueAccord, he wasn’t ready to go all-in immediately. The Snap Finance team decided to engage both a traditional agency and TrueAccord and compare the results. In evaluating the competing partners, key considerations included liquidation rate performance, security and compliance, and optimization efficiency. The result? TrueAccord delivered better results across all measured parameters.

“The reality of the results really knocked me out,” said Johnsen. “What we saw was almost 25-35% better performance on the accounts that we placed with TrueAccord, compared to the accounts we placed with traditional agencies. It was a real eye-opener. In fact, TrueAccord is number one in every tier I have them in. We’ve seen nothing but huge benefits as a result of that individual, digital-first interaction that TrueAccord tailors to each consumer.”

To learn more about TrueAccord’s work with Snap Finance, read the full case study.

How TrueAccord Can Address Patient Financial Responsibility

By on August 4th, 2021 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

As hospitals face growing and aging accounts receivable systems, and with limited data and visibility into their organizations’ financial health, the most common revenue challenges in today’s healthcare landscape all relate to not getting paid on time, every time. With patient financial responsibility increasing since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the challenge for hospitals and healthcare providers to collect payments consistently will become even more difficult to manage as more of the financial burden falls on patients. 

To quantify this increase in patient financial responsibility, TransUnion Healthcare’s 2019 study found a 12 percent increase in out-of-pocket costs for inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department care from 2017-2018. At the same time, Instamed reports that 78% of healthcare providers cannot collect on a bill of over $1000 in 30 days.

The issue of patient financial responsibility is complex, but one aspect is the patient financial experience. Patients who have a better experience are more likely to pay, but healthcare organizations are lagging far behind the financial experience that patients want. Patients often grapple with sticker shock due to the costs of healthcare  confusing medical bills from their healthcare providers in addition to insurance coverage notices and challenges. Many healthcare consumers are frustrated with their provider’s billing and collections process especially those that are not yet digital. Patients could benefit from better clarity and communications from their healthcare providers as well as easier and faster payments.

Patients who have a good financial experience with a healthcare organization are more likely to remain customers, which leads to future revenue. 41 percent of patients would consider switching to a new healthcare provider that offered a better digital billing and collections experience. In an increasingly transparent marketplace where there are many options for healthcare, ensuring that patients have a good clinical and financial experience is integral to retaining them.

TrueAccord helps health care providers alleviate these payment issues.  By delivering clear communication about amounts owed, an empathetic approach, and digital self-service, TrueAccord can offer a better financial experience for patients. Powered by AI, our system reaches out to the consumer with the right information at the right time so that they are empowered to take the steps necessary to fulfill their patient financial responsibility. We seek to understand the patient and meet him or her where they are with empathetic communications that take into consideration both the message and how and when it’s delivered. Rather than fostering frustration about their financial responsibilities, TrueAccord eases patients into the process. We also provide a self-service portal where patients can customize their payment plans and find other options for easily settling their bill. 

Since we were founded in 2013, TrueAccord has worked with more than 13 million consumers. Hundreds of thousands have resolved their debts with convenient payment plans, customized billing schedules, and easy documentation. Learn more about how TrueAccord can help your healthcare organization today.

TrueAccord Talks: Fintech Disruption in 2021

By on July 15th, 2021 in Industry Insights, Industry Interviews

Halfway through 2021, e-commerce and consumer spending continue to see the impact of government stimulus payments while consumers look for new ways to invest and leverage their money. Simultaneously, all sectors of fintech grew during the pandemic, and this growth has not shown signs of stopping. Investment and lending platforms have grown in users by the highest percentage during the pandemic — with increases of 23 and 25 percent, respectively (McKinsey).

With the digitization of banking and financial services now firmly part of our new normal, is “disruption” still possible in fintech in 2021? TrueAccord co-founder and CEO, Ohad Samet, recently sat down with Julie VerHage-Greenberg of Fintech Today to discuss what the next horizon of fintech disruption will look like — and how financial institutions of all types can stay ahead of the curve and create groundbreaking solutions this year.

Watch the full “TrueAccord Talks” episode for more insights, but key trends to watch in fintech disruption in 2021 include:

  1. Solving “structural problems”: Fintechs, unlike many traditional financial services companies, are not just putting old products online and calling them digital, but rethinking the approach to existing problems and building new, better solutions.
  2. Digitization for customer experience: While many companies have focused on digitizing the customer experience, those that haven’t may begin to feel the pressure to adapt. With digitization increasingly being driven by consumer demand and expectation, financial service providers that don’t integrate the consumer experience into their offerings will lose out to those that do.
  3. Affordable financial services: With so many new fintech players in the industry, competition and innovation continue to spur more efficient and affordable services for consumers. Old products will be replaced with new banks, payment options and wage access, and more will focus on credit care and access to cater to consumers.

Beyond Coding: Using AI to Improve the Healthcare Revenue Cycle

By on July 8th, 2021 in Industry Insights, Machine Learning
TrueAccord Blog

Generally, when talking about artificial intelligence (AI) in regards to medical collections, we hear about how it has automated the once-painstaking process of medical coding for billing. But why stop there? With all of its capabilities, AI has much more impressive and patient-facing applications when used to improve customer experience, especially in the healthcare industry which is increasingly digital-first and self-serve. In this post, we’ll explore how AI and machine learning can supercharge the healthcare revenue cycle by catering to consumer preferences, turning billing and collections into a seamless, efficient experience for both patients and providers.

But first: why is it necessary—and even urgent—to improve healthcare revenue management? The answer is patient expectations. Patients now expect the same type of personalized, easy-to-use experience they’ve grown accustomed to receiving from other industries, including banking, airline and retail industries. Patients are now “digital-first” and look for an end-to-end experience that allows them to handle medical-related issues on their own, often from their mobile devices. Patients can already schedule appointments, request prescription refills, receive test results, and even contact their healthcare provider directly through digital platforms. The application of digitization through AI and machine learning to other touchpoints in the patient journey, all the way through billing and collections, can improve customer experience and thereby their overall interactions and relationships with their healthcare providers.

First, digitization powered by AI and machine learning can replace manual and paper processes to speed up the recovery timeline. A 2020 report by InstaMed, a J.P. Morgan company, found that patient collections take more than a month for 63% of healthcare providers. This figure isn’t surprising when 81% of providers still leverage paper and manual processes for collections, while 75% of consumers want to receive eStatements for medical bills. The traditional method of collections does not align with consumer preferences, with more than half (54%) of consumers surveyed saying they prefer electronic communications (emails, text messages, in-app messages and live chats) for medical bills. And a majority of consumers (65%) preferred paying those medical bills digitally as well – whether online through their doctor’s or health plan’s website, their bank’s bill-pay portal or mobile apps – instead of manually. Using AI and machine learning to match the consumer’s communication and payment preferences can drastically improve the time needed to engage and collect from patients.

Second, AI-powered systems can personalize the billing and collections process and offer intuitive payment solutions for patients to achieve the best possible recovery rates. According to the InstaMed report, collecting patient financial responsibility in a timely manner was especially challenging for large patient balances, with 49% of surveyed providers reporting that they cannot collect bills of more than $400 in 30 days. Especially with multiple billers on different payment cycles, it can be difficult for a patient to set up a payment plan with terms they can successfully meet. AI can improve this experience by identifying the most efficient time, place and manner to communicate with a patient about their financial responsibility and go a step further in presenting personalized, affordable payment options. 

Third, AI can be used to interface directly with clients where they are and minimize the need for waiting on hold for the next available representative, creating a more seamless, humane process and a better customer experience. AI-enabled chatbots can answer basic questions, while automation can help provide information on why claims were denied and other status updates. Empathetic customer service is important in the healthcare industry and customized customer self-service can reduce frustration for the patient and the number of service agents needed for the provider.

At TrueAccord, we use AI and machine learning to build digital debt collection solutions for billers that put customers first. By implementing behavioral analytics to predict consumer communication preferences and machine learning to create smart, intuitive processes that increase likelihood of patient repayment, TrueAccord products stay a step ahead to ensure a successful revenue cycle where both patients and providers win. To safeguard personal patient information, TrueAccord’s policies and procedures are designed to comply with all HIPAA-related requirements (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), including documenting the use of protected health information (PHI) and the physical, technical, and administrative safeguards implemented to protect PHI. Learn more about how we use AI and machine learning to provide a personalized collections experience at scale here.

TrueAccord Offers Buy Now, Pay Later Clients the Opportunity to Improve Repayment Success

By on July 6th, 2021 in Industry Insights, Product and Technology
TrueAccord Blog

If you aren’t familiar with Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) yet, it’s a safe bet that you will be soon. The service, which allows consumers to split a purchase into several payments over a set period of time, has been popular in other countries and has been gaining traction in the U.S. 

To quantify the growth in BNPL use, a February 2021 survey conducted by The Strawhecker Group (TSG) of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers found that nearly two in five (39%) had used a BNPL service and predicted that BNPL volume will double by 2025. A separate March 2021 survey by The Ascent found that 56% of U.S. consumers have used a BNPL service, a nearly 50% increase from July 2020. 

This type of payment plan, offered by BNPL companies, has clearly caught on with consumers, leading to rapid growth (in some cases 200% or more year-over-year in 2020) for the main players.

So why do consumers love this offering? The question should be, why wouldn’t they? 

  1. The service performs like a short-term credit card, with generally no interest or fees due, unless the consumer misses or is late on a payment. 
  2. It’s simple and convenient to use when shopping online, with payment offers prominently displayed at checkout. 

It’s easy to see why consumers would opt for a more flexible, pay-over-time purchase option. After trying BNPL, users tend to like it and become repeat customers – TSG’s research found that nine out of ten people who have used BNPL found it reliable and that 85% of consumers plan to continue using it. TSG’s research also confirmed that the option to buy now and pay later tends to make people spend more than they would otherwise, potentially outside of their budget. BNPL will continue to be an attractive payment option for consumers, especially if it’s eventually integrated into in-person retail transactions, and the need for consumer education will grow. 

As a digital debt collection company, TrueAccord helps clients collect on unpaid debts, but is equally committed to helping consumers achieve long-term financial fitness and stability. TrueAccord works with many BNPL customers who for one reason or another did not meet the terms of the payment plan and ended up in collections by helping them understand their debt, offering flexible repayment options and educating on smart borrowing and spending. TrueAccord aims to usher BNPL consumers through and out of debt while delivering the best possible experience, and it’s that collaboration that will lead to better business for BNPL providers and better financial outcomes for consumers.

If you’re interested in learning about BNPL service providers and our work, check out our recent webinars co-hosted with Klarna and Affirm.

TrueAccord Featured in Aite Group’s Spotlight on Disruptive Fintech

By on July 1st, 2021 in Company News, Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

In a recent report by the Aite Group, TrueAccord was featured in the inaugural edition of the “Retail Banking & Payments Fintech Spotlight”, which highlighted disruptive fintechs with a strong focus on technologies that improve the customer experience. Analysts from Aite Group selected the six featured fintech vendors exclusively based on their level of innovation and their interesting approaches to wider business challenges facing the retail banking and payments market from both bank and customer perspectives.

The key differentiator making TrueAccord an innovative fintech disruptor? Not just taking an old system and making it digital, but using a customer-centric approach and machine learning engine that caters to each individual’s needs and seeks to fundamentally change the way consumers manage their debt. 

TrueAccord directs consumer focused messages to their preferred communication channel at the right time, all in line with federal and state requirements. With automated communications and the consumer’s ability to self-serve, TrueAccord collection agents can service 80,000 accounts at a time, compared to the typical 1,000 to 2,500 accounts that a traditional agent manages on behalf of the financial institution client. In addition, TrueAccord has found that allowing the consumer to propose their own payment arrangements within the institution’s approved parameters makes it 50% less likely that they will break that payment agreement. 

“Taking an existing process, especially one that is historically not consumer-friendly, and overhauling it from the ground up to actually benefit consumers is disruptive in the best way,” said Leslie Parrish, Senior Analyst, Aite Group. “While many companies focus on the consumer experience during the loan application process, very few bring that same attention to providing a consumer-friendly digital-first experience to the collection of that debt. TrueAccord’s unique approach to debt collection serves as a catalyst for transforming the collections industry.”

Excerpt from “Retail Banking & Payments Fintech Spotlight”:

The process of collecting on consumer debt is in need of a serious update, and TrueAccord distinguishes itself as a true stand-out in this industry. Together, the company’s three offerings provide a comprehensive solution set for both financial institutions and consumers. Consumers have significant pain points in dealing with unwanted collector calls and would much prefer to deal with these unpaid debts without having to speak with an agent. TrueAccord’s Recover and Retain platforms collectively provide financial institutions with a way to effectively communicate and collect on accounts at varying stages of delinquency in a way that is hospitable to consumers.

To read the full TrueAccord spotlight, download a copy of the report here.

Ohad Samet Named to Inaugural Debt Collection Advisory Committee of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI)

By on May 19th, 2021 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Ohad Samet, CEO and cofounder of TrueAccord Group, has been named to the inaugural debt collection advisory committee of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI). The debt collection advisory committee is a new seven-member board that will provide critical feedback to the DFPI as it stands up its debt collection licensing program.

“I look forward to working with the DFPI, a new and influential regulator, to think through consumer protection and choice in tough times,” said Samet. “Consumer protection will be especially important this year, as we emerge from the pandemic and direct economic aid to consumers decreases. The debt collection advisory committee will be working to make sure that all consumers facing debt collection in California are treated fairly and equitably.”

“Since its founding, TrueAccord has been committed to sharing consumer feedback and data about the use of technology in debt collection,” added Samet. “At TrueAccord, we’ve been able to demonstrate that consumers across the country like email and text, actively choose to use digital channels, and feel empowered by these tools while enjoying improved protection. Similar to other facets of consumer protection like privacy regulation, I expect that the rules coming out of the DFPI may end up impacting consumers nationwide.”

The debt collection advisory committee members represent a cross-section of industry experts, including five industry representatives, one consumer advocate, and one law and economics professor who studies the industry. Notably, three of the industry members, including TrueAccord, are RMAI certified businesses, demonstrating a preference for businesses with independently-audited, documented best practices.

“I look forward to working with this group representing diverse stakeholders in the debt collection industry,” said DFPI Commissioner Manuel P. Alvarez. “The committee’s perspectives and advice will be critical in helping the Department effectively oversee debt collectors and protect consumers.”

The committee members were appointed for two-year terms pursuant to Financial Code Section 100025 adopted by passage the Debt Collection Licensing Act (DCLA). The committee has scheduled its first meeting for July 28, 2021 and is expected to meet twice per year or as needed. For more details, refer to the DFPI’s official announcement.

About TrueAccord
Founded in 2013, TrueAccord’s data-driven debt collection platform is disrupting the collection industry by helping businesses collect more debt online than traditional methods. TrueAccord’s platform is powered by machine learning with a decision engine that analyzes consumer behavior and delivers personalized and empathetic consumer experiences. By communicating at the right time in the right channel with payment options that meet consumer needs, TrueAccord provides exceptional recovery rates for top 10 financial institutions, debt buyers, lenders, and technology companies. TrueAccord empowers many of the estimated 77 million consumers who are in debt every year to get on a path to better financial health. To learn more, go to http://www.trueaccord.com.

Regulators Care As Much About Consumer Preference in Debt Collection as Creditors

By on March 25th, 2021 in Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Recent regulatory activity makes it clear: regulators care as much about consumer preference in debt collection as creditors. In this blog post, Kelly Knepper-Stephens, TrueAccord’s VP Legal & Compliance, highlights the recent laws and regulations designed to protect consumer preferences in debt collection.

At a time when consumers’ power to impact a lender has increased dramatically, Klarna made the decision to outsource 1,005 of its debt collection activities. Jan Hansson, Vice President Debt Collection for Klarna, recently explained the reasoning behind that decision in TrueAccord’s recent webinar, Digital Debt Collections 101.

Jan explained how Klarna manages brand image with its collection partners, using “soft value metrics” to evaluate success, such as the number of consumers who return to use Klarna after having been in debt collection on a Klarna product. The fact that consumers return to Klarna after being in debt collection demonstrates that collections can be a positive process. Jan emphasized the importance of ensuring that debt collection is aligned with your total customer journey “so that any debt collection continues to build on your positive brand image.”

Honoring a customer’s debt collection preferences is the key. As Ohad Samet, founder of TrueAccord stated in Digital Debt Collections 101, “customers want to be contacted at the time and place and channel that is convenient to them…they would like to be in control of that.”

Federal and state lawmakers, who continue to pass laws and regulations designed to protect consumer preferences in debt collection, share the same consumer preference mindset of creditors like Klarna. A quick look at the most recent federal activity showcases this fact.

The CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule
On November 30, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), published Regulation F, the first attempt to refresh the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for modern communications. Debt collectors and creditors have until November 2021 to align their processes to these new rules, which are chock-full of efforts to protect consumer preference including:
• Requirements to uphold and pass on consumer requests to stop calls, not be contacted at certain times, and not be communicated with at particular locations (home, work, etc.)
• Steps to identify a consumer’s location to ensure communications occur between 8AM – 9PM, including when a consumer’s zip code and area code suggest different time zones
• Requirements for clear and conspicuous ways to unsubscribe from text messaging, emails, and other forms of digital communications
• Frequency restrictions, not just for calls, but for the frequency of contact efforts in the entire outbound communication strategy.

Fortunately for TrueAccord, our digital debt collection strategy was built for consumer preference and already meets most of the rule’s new requirements. As Ohad mentioned in the webinar, 96% of all TrueAccord communications are automated, and the other 4% are inbound communications, which makes our Customer Engagement team a customer care center.

The TRACED Act
In response to continued consumer complaints and pressure over unwanted robocalls, Congress passed the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act in 2019 to deter and punish robocall abuse. The law required the FCC to adopt and publish regulations that “help protect a subscriber from receiving unwanted calls or text messages from a caller using an unauthenticated number,” which the agency did in late 2020. The provisions of the TRACED Act and its implementing FCC regulations ultimately aim to increase consumer choice options mostly around the ability to identify and block unwanted calls by:
• Requiring carriers to implement the call authentication framework of STIR/SHAKEN which allows the consumer to identify the identity of an inbound caller;
• Requiring carriers to implement a reassigned number database so that companies can determine, in advance of calling, whether a given phone number for a consumer has been reassigned to a different person.

We are just now beginning to see companies, including telephone carriers, announce their compliance practices to implement these FCC Orders. For example, contact center platform service provider Twilio, headquartered in San Francisco, recently announced updates to their terms of service and acceptable use policy. At least one carrier, T-Mobile, has gone as far as to ban debt collection text messages as reported by InsideARM.

As lawmakers and lenders focus on consumer preference, successful debt collection compliance programs must incorporate consumer preferences into their practices not only to meet the new regulatory requirements, but also to provide a positive customer experience that consumers expect.