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Comment for 1006.38 — Disputes and Requests for Original-Creditor Information

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1. In writing. Section 1006.38 contains requirements related to a dispute or request for the name and address of the original creditor timely submitted in writing by the consumer. A consumer has disputed the debt or requested the name and address of the original creditor in writing for purposes of § 1006.38(c) or (d)(2) if the consumer, for example:

i. Mails the written dispute or request to the debt collector;

ii. Returns to the debt collector the consumer-response form that § 1006.34(c)(4) requires to appear on the validation notice and indicates on the form the dispute or request;

iii. Provides the dispute or request to the debt collector using a medium of electronic communication through which the debt collector accepts electronic communications from consumers, such as an email address or a website portal; or

iv. Delivers the written dispute or request in person or by courier to the debt collector.

2. Interpretation of the E-SIGN Act. Comment 38–1.ii constitutes the Bureau’s interpretation of section 101 of the E-SIGN Act as applied to section 809(b) of the FDCPA. Under this interpretation, section 101(a) of the E-SIGN Act enables a consumer to satisfy through an electronic request the requirement in section 809(b) of the FDCPA that the consumer’s notification of the debt collector be “in writing.” Further, because the consumer may only use a medium of electronic communication through which a debt collector accepts electronic communications from consumers, section 101(b) of the E-SIGN Act is not contravened.

3. Deceased consumers. If the debt collector knows or should know that the consumer is deceased, and if the consumer has not previously disputed the debt or requested the name and address of the original creditor, a person who is authorized to act on behalf of the deceased consumer’s estate operates as the consumer for purposes of § 1006.38. In such circumstances, to comply with § 1006.38(c) or (d)(2), respectively, a debt collector must respond to a request for the name and address of the original creditor or to a dispute timely submitted in writing by a person who is authorized to act on behalf of the deceased consumer’s estate.

38(a) Definitions.

38(a)(1) Duplicative dispute.

1. Substantially the same. Section 1006.38(a)(1) provides that a dispute is a duplicative dispute if, among other things, the dispute is substantially the same as a dispute previously submitted by the consumer in writing within the validation period for which the debt collector has already satisfied the requirements of § 1006.38(d)(2)(i). A later dispute can be substantially the same as an earlier dispute even if the later dispute does not repeat verbatim the language of the earlier dispute.

2. New and material information. Section 1006.38(a)(1) provides that a dispute that is substantially the same as a dispute previously submitted by the consumer in writing within the validation period for which the debt collector has already satisfied the requirements of § 1006.38(d)(2)(i) is not a duplicative dispute if the consumer provides new and material information to support the dispute. Information is new if the consumer did not provide the information when submitting an earlier dispute. Information is material if it is reasonably likely to change the verification the debt collector provided or would have provided in response to the earlier dispute. The following example illustrates the rule:

i. ABC debt collector is collecting a debt from a consumer and sends the consumer a validation notice. In response, the consumer submits a written dispute to ABC debt collector within the validation period asserting that the consumer does not owe the debt. The consumer does not include any information in support of the dispute. Pursuant to § 1006.38(d)(2)(i), ABC debt collector provides the consumer a copy of verification of the debt. The consumer then sends a cancelled check showing the consumer paid the debt. The cancelled check is new and material information.

38(d) Disputes.

38(d)(2) Response to disputes.

Paragraph 38(d)(2)(ii).

1. Duplicative dispute notice. Section 1006.38(d)(2)(ii) provides that, in the case of a dispute that a debt collector reasonably determines is a duplicative dispute, the debt collector must cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion of the debt, until the debt collector either notifies the consumer that the dispute is duplicative (§ 1006.38(d)(2)(ii)(A)) or provides a copy either of verification of the debt or of a judgment to the consumer (§ 1006.38(d)(2)(ii)(B)). If the debt collector notifies the consumer that the dispute is duplicative, § 1006.38(d)(2)(ii)(A) requires that the notice provide a brief statement of the reasons for the debt collector’s determination that the dispute is duplicative and refer the consumer to the debt collector’s response to the earlier dispute. A debt collector complies with the requirement to provide a brief statement of the reasons for its determination if the notice states that the dispute is substantially the same as an earlier dispute submitted by the consumer and the consumer has not included any new and material information in support of the earlier dispute. A debt collector complies with the requirement to refer the consumer to the debt collector’s response to the earlier dispute if the notice states that the debt collector responded to the earlier dispute and provides the date of that response.