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Comment for 1006.18 — False, Deceptive, or Misleading Representations or Means

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18(d) False representations or deceptive means.

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).

18(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.

18(e)(1) Initial communications.

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.

18(e)(4) Translated disclosures.

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.

18(f) Assumed names.

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.