Reg F: How to Keep Your Call Center Compliance in Check
Call center compliance is one of the most vital pieces to any call center, especially in the financial services collections industry. Apart from the several regulatory governing bodies like the TCPA and CFPB, there are numerous rules that can add an extra layer of complexity. Regulation F, the FDCPA, STIR/SHAKEN, and the Reassigned Number Database, to name a few.
With Reg F in line to be implemented soon, there have been legal interpretations on how the new rule should be followed.
On November 30, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published Reg F to clarify and implement the FDCPA after its effective date of November 30, 2021. Among other actions, like providing a model validation notice and refining some stances on out-of-stat debt, Regulation F clarifies details about certain communications made by certain debt collectors, including telephone calls, emails, and text messages when attempting to collect a debt.
The final rule addresses, among other things, communications in connection with debt collection and prohibitions on harassment or abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices in debt collection.
Let’s outline a few of the basics of Reg F and some of the call center compliance rules hitting later this year on November 30, 2021.
Who Is Reg F For
Reg F takes on the same definition from the FDCPA — meaning Reg F qualifies debt collectors as collection agencies, debt buyers, collection law firms, and loan servicers. It is important to note that creditors collecting on debts they originally owned do not qualify as debt collectors.
Collection agencies serving the industry need to take note and be sure they are following the guidelines outlined in the Debt Collection Practices published by the CFPB.
Avoid Excess Contacting
One of the main focuses of Regulation F is clarifying the details concerning how a collector contacts a debtor. The goal of the CFPB and FDCPA is, just as their names explain, to protect consumers — this includes protecting them from excessive contact and harassment.
Regulation F outlines the 7-in-7 rule, explaining the number of times collectors can call and contact consumers within a specific timeline. The time of day consumers may be contacted, and the clarification that collectors cannot contact a consumer at their place of employment are also laid out in the regulations.
Implementing practices and tools that will help your call center comply with these new rulings can be overwhelming, it’s important to make sure you have access to all the tools you need to keep your call center compliance in check.
One of the biggest challenges is determining what consumers prefer and whether they want to be contacted by cell phone, landline, text message, or email. Regulators have encouraged call centers to use respect when it comes to consumer preferences.
It is easy to see how consumers can be bothered by a collection experience. Regulatory agencies receive complaints from individuals ranging from harassment and intimidation, or other deceptive practices. For any respectable debt collection call center, this type of behavior would not be tolerated.
Within the updated Reg F rules, consumer preferences are outlined on how and when a consumer can be contacted. It also goes into detail about what can be communicated during initial conversations.
Appropriate limited-content messages, opt-out language and ceasing communication preferences need to be addressed before the November 30th deadline.
Pro Tip: It is important to remember that all calls and communication, regardless of channel, should still be focused on being helpful, wanted, and expected with consumer consent.
What Can Be Done
Stay calm and don’t panic. Overall, you are responsible for implementing Reg F and how it applies to your specific industry, i.e., collections, financial services, and debt buying.
Implementing a successful Reg F strategy starts with a strong understanding of the specific rules and then incorporating those into your day-to-day operations. TCN’s Natural Language Compliance can help build and manage all your Reg F rules right within your call center software. Additionally, our Data Services can help manage consumer consent and overall operational efficiencies.
We have only scratched the surface on a few of the basics of what can be found in the new Reg F changes to the FDCPA. Be sure to consult with your legal counsel for more information.
For a full write-up on Reg F, be sure to download our Regulation F Summary of Debt Collection Rules Implementing the FDCPA ebook. It’s free.