CFPB shelves plan to extend debt collection compliance deadline

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said two debt collection rules will go into effect on Nov. 30 as originally planned, rejecting a plea by consumer advocates for the agency to reopen the rulemakings.

The CFPB said Friday that the agency no longer plans to extend the effective dates to Jan. 29, 2022, as previously proposed. The agency had considered allowing more time to weigh concerns by consumer advocacy groups that the Trump-era rules were too weak. But reopening the regulations has legal issues, the bureau said.

“Although consumer advocate commenters generally supported extending the effective date, they did not focus on whether additional time is needed to implement the rules,” the CFPB said in a press release. “A reconsideration of the rules was beyond the scope of the [notice of proposed rulemaking] and could raise concerns under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The final debt collection rules limit how often a collector can call a borrower to seven calls per week, but allow unlimited contact by voice mail, email and text messages.

Consumer advocates objected to the latter provision, saying consumers should be able to opt in to unlimited electronic communications. Consumers will be allowed to opt out at any time.

“They’re leaving the rules as-is, which I think this is a huge win for industry,” said Joann Needleman, a leader at Clark Hill’s consumer financial services regulatory group.

The CFPB’s first debt collection rule issued in October by former CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, a Trump appointee, focused on texts and emails, updating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

A second rule clarified which disclosures collectors must provide to consumers at the beginning of a correspondence and prohibits debt collectors from suing or threatening to sue consumers on time-barred debt. The second rule also requires that debt collectors take specific steps to disclose the existence of a debt to consumers before reporting information about the debt to a consumer reporting agency.

The CFPB reiterated that it can still consider changes to either rule at any time.

“Nothing in this decision precludes the CFPB from reconsidering the debt collection rules at a later date,” the bureau said.

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