So the question becomes how to apply these antiquated laws to current collections and debt buying technology? This is a difficult and gray area. The beginnings of understanding how to apply these laws to current technology is to first understand exactly what these laws mean for the industry. There are some basics that are commonly known about both acts. However, a comprehensive understanding of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act is going to be too difficult to cover in this type of setting. The best way to fully understand these laws is to take courses in their meaning and use in the collections industry.
The most basic and commonly known factor of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for the collections industry is that the act forbids contact via cell phone without the express permission of the consumer. There is one large problem with this. According to a study done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, nearly twenty five percent of Americans only have a cell phone and no land line. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act further restricts phone contact by prohibiting contact at a person’s place of business or employment is personal calls are forbidden due to company policy. Therefore, for twenty five percent of Americans, there is no way to contact them by phone by the collections industry. This is a problem, and you must learn to find ways around it by finding other means of contact.
This is where things get tricky. There are laws against SPAM, but other than that there are no laws regarding internet use to contact someone to collect a debt. If a collector has the email address of a debtor, they can use that email address in pretty much any way they choose to contact the debtor in relationship to the debt. This is entirely unregulated. Because of this fact, many collections agencies will not use the internet to contact debtors, because they are unsure where the boundaries lie. So essentially, the only way to contact these individuals is by snail mail, which is highly unreliable since people can just throw the notice in the trash without a second thought.
It is vitally important that, as a debt buyer or collections representative, you fully understand these laws and how they impact the current industry and our fast changing technology. It is the responsibility of those involved in the collection industry to be well educated in these areas, ensuring you are operating within the law and still see results in your collection efforts.