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§ 1006.18 False, deceptive, or misleading representations or means.

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(a) In general. A debt collector must not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt, including, but not limited to, the conduct described in paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section.

(b) False, deceptive, or misleading representations.

(1) A debt collector must not falsely represent or imply that:

(i) The debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including through the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof.

(ii) The debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency, as defined by section 603(f) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681a(f)).

(iii) Any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney.

(iv) The consumer committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer.

(v) A sale, referral, or other transfer of any interest in a debt causes or will cause the consumer to:

(A) Lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt; or

(B) Become subject to any practice prohibited by this part.

(vi) Accounts have been turned over to innocent purchasers for value.

(vii) Documents are legal process.

(viii) Documents are not legal process forms or do not require action by the consumer.

(2) A debt collector must not falsely represent:

(i) The character, amount, or legal status of any debt.

(ii) Any services rendered, or compensation that may be lawfully received, by any debt collector for the collection of a debt.

(3) A debt collector must not represent or imply that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action.

(c) False, deceptive, or misleading collection means. A debt collector must not:

(1) Threaten to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken.

(2) Communicate or threaten to communicate to any person credit information that the debt collector knows or should know is false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed.

(3) Use or distribute any written communication that simulates or that the debt collector falsely represents to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any State, or that creates a false impression about its source, authorization, or approval.

(4) Use any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization.

(d) False representations or deceptive means. A debt collector must not use any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.

1. Social media. Under § 1006.18(d), a debt collector may not use any false representation or deceptive means to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer. In the social media context, the following examples illustrate the rule:

i. Assume that a debt collector sends a private message, in connection with the collection of a debt, requesting to be added as one of the consumer’s contacts on a social media platform marketed for social or professional networking purposes. A debt collector makes a false representation or implication if the debt collector does not disclose his or her identity as a debt collector in the request.

ii. Assume that a debt collector communicates privately with a friend or coworker of a consumer on a social media platform, for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer. Pursuant to § 1006.10(b)(1), the debt collector must identify himself or herself individually by name when communicating for the purpose of acquiring location information. To avoid violating § 1006.18(d), the debt collector must communicate using a profile that accurately identifies the debt collector’s individual name. (But see § 1006.18(f) and its associated commentary regarding use of assumed names.) The debt collector also must comply with the other applicable requirements for obtaining location information in § 1006.10 (e.g., with respect to stating that the debt collector is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer and, only if expressly requested, identifying the name of the debt collector’s employer), for communicating with third parties in § 1006.6(d)(1), and for communicating through social media in § 1006.22(f)(4).

See interpretation of 18(d) False representations or deceptive means. in Supplement I

(e) Disclosures required—

1. Communication. A limited-content message, as defined in § 1006.2(j), is not a communication, as that term is defined in § 1006.2(d). Thus, a debt collector who leaves only a limited-content message for a consumer need not make the disclosures required by § 1006.18(e)(1) and (2). However, if a debt collector leaves a voicemail message for a consumer that includes content in addition to the content described in § 1006.2(j)(1) and (2) and that directly or indirectly conveys any information regarding a debt, the voicemail message is a communication, and the debt collector is required to make the § 1006.18(e) disclosures. See the commentary to § 1006.2(d) and (j) for additional clarification regarding the definitions of communication and limited-content message.

See interpretation of 18(e) Disclosures required. in Supplement I

(1) Initial communications. A debt collector must disclose in its initial communication with a consumer that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. If the debt collector’s initial communication with the consumer is oral, the debt collector must make the disclosure required by this paragraph again in its initial written communication with the consumer.

1. Example. A debt collector must make the disclosure required by § 1006.18(e)(1) in the debt collector’s initial communication with a consumer, regardless of the medium of communication and regardless of whether the debt collector or the consumer initiated the communication. For example, assume that a debt collector who has not previously communicated with a consumer attempts to communicate with the consumer by leaving a limited-content message, as defined in § 1006.2(j). After listening to the debt collector’s limited-content message, the consumer initiates a telephone call to, and communicates with, the debt collector. Pursuant to § 1006.18(e)(1), because the consumer-initiated call is the initial communication between the debt collector and the consumer, the debt collector must disclose to the consumer during that telephone call that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

See interpretation of 18(e)(1) Initial communications. in Supplement I

(2) Subsequent communications. In each communication with the consumer subsequent to the communications described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the debt collector must disclose that the communication is from a debt collector.

(3) Exception. Disclosures under paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section are not required in a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.

(4) Translated disclosures. A debt collector must make the disclosures required by paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section in the same language or languages used for the rest of the communication in which the debt collector conveyed the disclosures. Any translation of the disclosures a debt collector uses must be complete and accurate.

1. Example. Section 1006.18(e)(4) provides that a debt collector must make the disclosures required by § 1006.18(e)(1) and (2) in the same language or languages used for the rest of the communication in which the disclosures are conveyed. The following example illustrates the rule:

i. ABC debt collector is collecting a debt. ABC debt collector’s initial communication with the consumer takes place in Spanish. Section 1006.18(e)(4) requires ABC debt collector to provide in Spanish the disclosure required by § 1006.18(e)(1). Thereafter, ABC debt collector has a communication with the consumer that takes place partly in English and partly in Spanish. During this communication, the debt collector must provide the disclosure required by § 1006.18(e)(2) in both English and Spanish.

See interpretation of 18(e)(4) Translated disclosures. in Supplement I

(f) Assumed names. This section does not prohibit a debt collector’s employee from using an assumed name when communicating or attempting to communicate with a person, provided that the employee uses the assumed name consistently and that the debt collector can readily identify any employee using an assumed name.

1. Readily identifiable by the employer. Section 1006.18(f) provides, in part, that § 1006.18 does not prohibit a debt collector’s employee from using an assumed name when communicating or attempting to communicate with a person, provided that the debt collector can readily identify any employee using an assumed name. A debt collector may use any method of managing assumed names that enables the debt collector to determine the true identity of any employee using an assumed name. For example, a debt collector may require an employee to use the same assumed name when communicating or attempting to communicate with any person and may prohibit any other employee from using the same assumed name.

See interpretation of 18(f) Assumed names. in Supplement I