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Comment for 1006.6 — Communications in Connection with Debt Collection

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6(a) Consumer.

Paragraph 6(a)(1).

1. Spouse. Section 1006.6(a)(1) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6, the term consumer includes a consumer’s spouse. The surviving spouse of a deceased consumer is a spouse as that term is used in § 1006.6(a)(1).

Paragraph 6(a)(2).

1. Parent. Section 1006.6(a)(2) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6, the term consumer includes a consumer’s parent, if the consumer is a minor. A parent of a deceased minor consumer is a parent as that term is used in § 1006.6(a)(2).

Paragraph 6(a)(4).

1. Personal representative. Section 1006.6(a)(4) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6, the term consumer includes the executor or administrator of the consumer’s estate, if the consumer is deceased. The terms executor or administrator include the personal representative of the consumer’s estate. A personal representative is any person who is authorized to act on behalf of the deceased consumer’s estate. Persons with such authority may include personal representatives under the informal probate and summary administration procedures of many States, persons appointed as universal successors, persons who sign declarations or affidavits to effectuate the transfer of estate assets, and persons who dispose of the deceased consumer’s financial assets or other assets of monetary value extrajudicially.

6(b) Communications with a consumer.

6(b)(1) Prohibitions regarding unusual or inconvenient times or places.

1. Designation of inconvenience. Section 1006.6(b)(1) prohibits a debt collector from, among other things, communicating or attempting to communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at a time or place that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer, unless an exception in § 1006.6(b)(4) applies. For example, a debt collector knows or should know that a time or place is inconvenient to a consumer if the consumer uses the word “inconvenient” to notify the debt collector. In addition, depending on the facts and circumstances, the debt collector knows or should know that a time or place is inconvenient even if the consumer does not specifically state to the debt collector that a time or place is “inconvenient.” The debt collector may ask follow-up questions regarding whether a time or place is convenient to clarify statements by the consumer. For example:

i. Assume that a creditor places a debt for collection with a debt collector. To facilitate collection of the debt, the creditor provides the debt collector a file that includes recent notes stating that the consumer cannot be disturbed on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of the calendar year. Based on these facts, the debt collector knows or should know that Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of the calendar year are inconvenient to the consumer. Unless the consumer informs the debt collector that those times are no longer inconvenient, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with the consumer on those days through the end of the calendar year.

ii. Assume that a debt collector calls a consumer. The consumer answers the call but states “I am busy” or “I cannot talk now.” The debt collector asks the consumer when would be a convenient time. The consumer responds, “on weekdays, except from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.” The debt collector asks the consumer whether there would be a convenient time on weekends. The consumer responds “no.” Based on these facts, the debt collector knows or should know that the time period between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and all times on weekends, are inconvenient to the consumer. Thereafter, unless the consumer informs the debt collector that those times are no longer inconvenient, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with the consumer at those times.

iii. Assume that a consumer tells a debt collector not to communicate with the consumer at a particular place, such as the consumer’s home. The debt collector asks whether the consumer intends to prohibit the debt collector from communicating with the consumer through all media associated with the consumer’s home, including, for example, mail. Absent such additional information, the debt collector knows or should know that communications to the consumer at home, including mail to the consumer’s home address and calls to the consumer’s home landline telephone number, are inconvenient. Thereafter, unless the consumer informs the debt collector that the place is no longer inconvenient, § 1006.6(b)(1)(ii) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with the consumer at the consumer’s home. See comment 6(b)(1)(ii)–1 for additional guidance regarding communications or attempts to communicate at an inconvenient place.

2. Consumer-initiated communication. If a consumer initiates a communication with a debt collector at a time or from a place that the consumer previously designated as inconvenient, the debt collector may respond once at that time or place through the same medium of communication used by the consumer. (For more on medium of communication, see § 1006.14(h) and its associated commentary.) After that response, § 1006.6(b)(1) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate further with the consumer at that time or place until the consumer conveys that the time or place is no longer inconvenient, unless an exception in § 1006.6(b)(4) applies. For example:

i. Assume the same facts as in comment 6(b)(1)–1.ii, except that, after the consumer tells the debt collector that weekdays from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and weekends are inconvenient, the consumer sends an email message to the debt collector at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Based on these facts, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) does not prohibit the debt collector from responding once by email message before 5:00 p.m. on that day. Unless the consumer informs the debt collector that those times are no longer inconvenient, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) prohibits the debt collector from future communications or attempts to communicate with the consumer on weekdays between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. and on weekends. Additionally, if the consumer responds to the debt collector’s email message, the debt collector may continue to respond once to each consumer-initiated email message before 5:00 p.m. on that day.

ii. Assume the same facts as in comment 6(b)(1)–1.iii, except that, after the consumer tells the debt collector not to communicate with the consumer at home, the consumer calls the debt collector from the consumer’s home landline telephone number. Based on these facts, § 1006.6(b)(1)(ii) does not prohibit the debt collector from responding once by communicating with the consumer on that telephone call. Unless the consumer informs the debt collector that the place is no longer inconvenient, § 1006.6(b)(1)(ii) prohibits the debt collector from future communications or attempts to communicate with the consumer at home.

iii. Assume that a consumer tells a debt collector that all communications to the consumer on Friday every week are inconvenient to the consumer. On a Friday, the consumer visits the debt collector’s website and uses the debt collector’s mobile application. Based on these facts, while the consumer navigates the website or uses the mobile application, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) does not prohibit the debt collector from conveying information to the consumer about the debt through the website or mobile application. Once the consumer stops navigating the website or using the mobile application, however, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) prohibits the debt collector from further communications or attempts to communicate on that day. And unless the consumer informs the debt collector that those times are no longer inconvenient, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) prohibits the debt collector from future communications or attempts to communicate with the consumer on Fridays.

iv. Assume the same facts as in comment 6(b)(1)–2.iii, except that after the consumer visits the debt collector’s website and uses the debt collector’s mobile application, the consumer sends an email message to the debt collector at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. Based on these facts, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) does not prohibit the debt collector from responding once, such as by sending an automated email message reply generated in response to the consumer’s email message. Unless the consumer informs the debt collector that those times are no longer inconvenient, § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) prohibits the debt collector from future communications or attempts to communicate with the consumer on Fridays.

Paragraph 6(b)(1)(i).

1. Time of electronic communication. Section 1006.6(b)(1)(i) prohibits a debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate, including through electronic communication media, at any unusual time, or at a time that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer. For purposes of determining the time of an electronic communication, such as an email or text message, under § 1006.6(b)(1)(i), an electronic communication occurs when the debt collector sends it, not, for example, when the consumer receives or views it.

2. Consumer’s location. Under § 1006.6(b)(1)(i), in the absence of a debt collector’s knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, an inconvenient time for communicating with a consumer is before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. local time at the consumer’s location. If a debt collector has conflicting or ambiguous information regarding a consumer’s location, then, in the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, the debt collector complies with § 1006.6(b)(1)(i) if the debt collector communicates or attempts to communicate with the consumer at a time that would be convenient in all of the locations at which the debt collector’s information indicates the consumer might be located. The following examples, which assume that the debt collector has no information about times the consumer considers inconvenient or other information about the consumer’s location, illustrate the rule.

i. Assume that a debt collector’s information indicates that a consumer has a mobile telephone number with an area code associated with the Eastern time zone and a residential address in the Pacific time zone. The convenient times to communicate with the consumer are after 11:00 a.m. Eastern time (8:00 a.m. Pacific time) and before 9:00 p.m. Eastern time (6:00 p.m. Pacific time).

ii. Assume that a debt collector’s information indicates that a consumer has a mobile telephone number with an area code associated with the Eastern time zone and a landline telephone number with an area code associated with the Mountain time zone. The convenient times to communicate with the consumer are after 10:00 a.m. Eastern time (8:00 a.m. Mountain time) and before 9:00 p.m. Eastern time (7:00 p.m. Mountain time).

Paragraph 6(b)(1)(ii).

1. Communications or attempts to communicate at unusual or inconvenient places. Section 1006.6(b)(1)(ii) prohibits a debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at any unusual place, or at a place that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer. Some communication media, such as mailing addresses and landline telephone numbers, are associated with a place. Pursuant to § 1006.6(b)(1)(ii), a debt collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a consumer through media associated with an unusual place, or with a place that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer. Other communication media, such as email addresses and mobile telephone numbers, are not associated with a place. Section 1006.6(b)(1)(ii) does not prohibit a debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with a consumer through such media unless the debt collector knows that the consumer is at an unusual place, or at a place that the debt collector knows or should know is inconvenient to the consumer. For example:

i. Assume the same facts as in comment 6(b)(1)–1.iii. Unless the debt collector knows that the consumer is at home, a telephone call to the consumer’s mobile telephone number or an electronic communication, including, for example, an email message or a text message to the consumer’s mobile telephone, does not violate § 1006.6(b)(1)(ii) even if the consumer receives or views the communication while at home.

6(b)(2) Prohibitions regarding consumer represented by an attorney.

1. Consumer-initiated communications. A consumer-initiated communication from a consumer represented by an attorney constitutes the consumer’s prior consent to that communication under § 1006.6(b)(4)(i); therefore, a debt collector may respond to that consumer-initiated communication. However, the consumer’s act of initiating the communication does not negate the debt collector’s knowledge that the consumer is represented by an attorney and does not revoke the protections afforded the consumer under § 1006.6(b)(2). After the debt collector’s response, the debt collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate further with the consumer unless the debt collector knows the consumer is not represented by an attorney with respect to the debt, either based on information from the consumer or the consumer’s attorney, or unless an exception under § 1006.6(b)(2)(i) or (ii) or § 1006.6(b)(4) applies.

6(b)(3) Prohibitions regarding consumer’s place of employment.

1. Communications at consumer’s place of employment. Section 1006.6(b)(3) prohibits a debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at the consumer’s place of employment, if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication. A debt collector knows or has reason to know that a consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication if, for example, the consumer tells the debt collector that the consumer cannot take personal calls at work. The debt collector may ask follow-up questions regarding the employer’s prohibitions or limitations on contacting the consumer at the place of employment to clarify statements by the consumer.

2. Employer-provided email. For special rules regarding employer-provided email addresses, see § 1006.22(f)(3) and its associated commentary.

6(b)(4) Exceptions.

Paragraph 6(b)(4)(i).

1. Prior consent—in general. Section 1006.6(b)(4)(i) provides, in part, that the prohibitions in § 1006.6(b)(1) through (3) on a debt collector communicating or attempting to communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt do not apply if the debt collector communicates or attempts to communicate with the prior consent of the consumer. If the debt collector learns during a communication that the debt collector is communicating with the consumer at an inconvenient time or place, for example, the debt collector may ask the consumer during that communication what time or place would be convenient. However, § 1006.6(b)(4)(i) prohibits the debt collector from asking the consumer to consent to the continuation of that inconvenient communication.

2. Directly to the debt collector. Section 1006.6(b)(4)(i) requires the prior consent of the consumer to be given directly to the debt collector. For example, a debt collector cannot rely on the prior consent of the consumer given to a creditor or to a previous debt collector.

6(c) Communications with a consumer—after refusal to pay or cease communication notice.

6(c)(1) Prohibitions.

1. Notification complete upon receipt. If, pursuant to § 1006.6(c)(1), a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing or electronically using a medium of electronic communication through which a debt collector accepts electronic communications from consumers that the consumer either refuses to pay a debt or wants the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, notification is complete upon the debt collector’s receipt of that information. The following example illustrates the rule.

i. Assume that on August 3, a consumer places in the mail a written notification to a debt collector that the consumer either refuses to pay a debt or wants the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer pursuant to § 1006.6(c)(1). On August 4, the debt collector sends the consumer an email message. The debt collector receives the consumer’s written notification on August 6. Because the consumer’s notification is complete upon the debt collector’s receipt of that information on August 6, the debt collector’s email message communication on August 4 does not violate § 1006.6(c)(1).

2. Interpretation of the E-SIGN Act. Comment 6(c)(1)–1 constitutes the Bureau’s interpretation of section 101 of the E-SIGN Act as applied to FDCPA section 805(c). Under this interpretation, section 101(a) of the E-SIGN Act enables a consumer to satisfy the requirement in FDCPA section 805(c) that the consumer’s notification of the debt collector be “in writing” through an electronic request. Further, because the consumer may only satisfy the writing requirement using 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.

6(c)(2) Exceptions.

1. Written early intervention notice for mortgage servicers. The Bureau has interpreted the written early intervention notice required by 12 CFR 1024.39(d)(3) to fall within the exceptions to the cease communication provision in FDCPA section 805(c)(2) and (3). See 12 CFR 1024.39(d)(3), its commentary, and the Bureau’s 2016 FDCPA Interpretive Rule (81 FR 71977 (Oct. 19, 2016)).

2. Other mortgage servicing rule provisions. Notwithstanding a consumer’s cease communication request pursuant to § 1006.6(c)(1), a mortgage servicer who is subject to the FDCPA with respect to a mortgage loan is not liable under the FDCPA for complying with certain servicing rule provisions, including requirements to provide a consumer with disclosures regarding the forced placement of hazard insurance as required by 12 CFR 1024.37, a disclosure regarding an adjustable-rate mortgage’s initial interest rate adjustment as required by 12 CFR 1026.20(d), and a periodic statement for each billing cycle as required by 12 CFR 1026.41. See CFPB Bulletin 2013-12 (Oct. 15, 2013) providing implementation guidance for certain mortgage servicing rules.

6(d) Communications with third parties.

6(d)(2) Exceptions.

1. Prior consent. See the commentary to § 1006.6(b)(4)(i) for guidance concerning a consumer giving prior consent directly to a debt collector.

6(d)(3) Reasonable procedures for email and text message communications.

Paragraph 6(d)(3)(ii).

1. Knowledge of prohibited disclosure. For purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(ii), a debt collector knows that sending an email to an email address or a text message to a telephone number has led to a disclosure prohibited by § 1006.6(d)(1) if any person has informed the debt collector of that fact.

6(d)(4) Procedures for email addresses.

6(d)(4)(i) Procedures based on communication between the consumer and the debt collector.

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(i)(B).

1. Prior consent—in general. Section 1006.6(d)(4)(i)(B) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send an email to an email address if, among other things, the debt collector has received directly from the consumer prior consent to use the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt. For purposes of § 1006.6(d)(4)(i)(B), a consumer may provide consent directly to a debt collector through any medium of communication, such as in writing, electronically, or orally.

2. Prior consent—consumer-provided email address. If a consumer provides an email address to a debt collector (including on the debt collector’s website or online portal), the debt collector may treat the consumer as having consented directly to the debt collector’s use of the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(4)(i)(B) if the debt collector discloses clearly and conspicuously that the debt collector may use the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt.

6(d)(4)(ii) Procedures based on communication by the creditor.

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(B).

1. Communications about the account. Section 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(B) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send an email to an email address if, among other things, the creditor used the email address to communicate with the consumer about the account giving rise to the debt. For purposes of § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(B), communications about the account include, for example, required disclosures, bills, invoices, periodic statements, payment reminders, and payment confirmations. Communications about the account do not include, for example, marketing or advertising materials unrelated to the consumer’s account.

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(C).

1. Clear and conspicuous. Clear and conspicuous means readily understandable. In the case of written and electronic disclosures, the location and type size also must be readily noticeable and legible to consumers, although no minimum type size is mandated.

2. Sample language. Section 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send an email to an email address if, among other things, the creditor sent the consumer a written or electronic notice that clearly and conspicuously disclosed that the debt would be transferred to the debt collector; that the debt collector might use the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt; that, if others have access to this email address, then it is possible they may see the emails; instructions for a reasonable and simple method by which the consumer could opt out of such communications; and the date by which the debt collector or creditor must receive the consumer’s request to opt out.

i. When a creditor sends the notice in writing, the creditor may use, but is not required to use, the following language to satisfy § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C): “We are transferring your account to ABC debt collector, and we are providing ABC debt collector with the following email address for you: [email address]. ABC debt collector may use this email address to communicate with you about the debt. If others have access to this email address, then it is possible they may see the emails. If you would like to opt out of communications by ABC debt collector to [email address], please fill out the enclosed form and return it in the enclosed envelope so that we receive it by [date].”

ii. When a creditor sends the notice electronically, the creditor may use, but is not required to use, the following language to satisfy § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C): “We are transferring your account to ABC debt collector, and we are providing ABC debt collector with the following email address for you: [email address]. ABC debt collector may use this email address to communicate with you about the debt. If others have access to this email address, then it is possible they may see the emails. If you would like to opt out of communications by ABC debt collector to [email address], please click here by [date].”

3. Combined notice. A notice provided by the creditor under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C) may be contained in a larger communication that conveys other information, as long as the notice is clear and conspicuous.

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1).

1. Identification of the debt collector. Under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(1), the notice must clearly and conspicuously disclose, among other things, that the debt has been or will be transferred to the debt collector. To satisfy this requirement, the notice must identify the name of the specific debt collector to which the debt has been or will be transferred.

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(4).

1. Reasonable and simple method to opt out. Under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(4), the notice must clearly and conspicuously disclose instructions for a reasonable and simple method by which the consumer can opt out of the debt collector’s use of the email address to communicate about the debt. The following examples illustrate the rule.

i. When the creditor sends the notice in writing, reasonable and simple methods for opting out include providing a reply form and a pre-addressed envelope together with the opt-out notice. Requiring a consumer to call or write to obtain a form for opting out, rather than including the form with the opt-out notice, does not meet the requirement to provide a reasonable and simple method for opting out.

ii. When the creditor sends the notice electronically, reasonable and simple methods for opting out include providing an electronic means to opt out, such as a hyperlink, or allowing the consumer to opt out by replying to the communication with the word “stop.” Requiring a consumer who receives the opt-out notice electronically to opt out by postal mail, telephone, or visiting a website without providing a link does not meet the requirement to provide a reasonable and simple method for opting out.

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(5).

1. Recipient of opt-out request. Under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(5), the notice must clearly and conspicuously disclose the date by which a debt collector or creditor must receive a consumer’s request to opt out, which must be at least 35 days after the date the notice is sent. The notice may instruct the consumer to respond to the debt collector or to the creditor but not to both.

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(D).

1. Effect of opt-out request after expiration of opt-out period. If a consumer requests after the expiration of the opt-out period that the debt collector not communicate using the email address identified in the opt-out notice, such as by returning the notice or opting out under § 1006.6(e), § 1006.14(h)(1) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with the consumer using that email address. If the consumer requests after the expiration of the opt-out period that the debt collector not communicate with the consumer by email, § 1006.14(h)(1) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with the consumer by email, including by using the specific email address identified in the notice. For more on prohibited communication media and certain exceptions, see § 1006.14(h) and its associated commentary. If after the expiration of the opt-out period the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing or electronically using a medium of electronic communication through which a debt collector accepts electronic communications from consumers that the consumer refuses to pay the debt or wants the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, § 1006.6(c)(1) prohibits the debt collector from communicating or attempting to communicate with the consumer with respect to the debt, subject to the exceptions in § 1006.6(c)(2). For more on communications with a consumer after refusal to pay or a cease communication notice, see § 1006.6(c) and its associated commentary.

2. Scope of opt-out request. In the absence of evidence that the consumer refuses to pay the debt or wants the debt collector to cease all communication with the consumer, a consumer’s request under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(D) to opt out of a debt collector’s use of a particular email address to communicate with the consumer by email does not constitute a notification to cease further communication with respect to the debt under § 1006.6(c)(1).

Paragraph 6(d)(4)(ii)(E).

1. Domain name available for use by the general public. Under § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(E), the domain name of an email address is available for use by the general public when multiple members of the general public are permitted to use the same domain name, whether for free or through a paid subscription. Such a name does not include one that is reserved for use by specific registrants, such as a domain name branded for use by a particular commercial entity (e.g., john.doe@springsidemortgage.com) or reserved for particular types of institutions (e.g., john.doe@agency.gov, john.doe@university.edu, or john.doe@nonprofit.org).

2. Knowledge of employer-provided email address. For purposes of § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(E), a debt collector knows that an email address is provided by the consumer’s employer if any person has informed the debt collector that the address is employer provided. However, § 1006.6(d)(4)(ii)(E) does not require a debt collector to conduct a manual review of consumer accounts to determine whether an email address might be employer provided.

6(d)(4)(iii) Procedures based on communication by the prior debt collector.

1. Immediately prior debt collector. Section 1006.6(d)(4)(iii) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send an email to an email address if, among other things, the immediately prior debt collector used the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt. For purposes of § 1006.6(d)(4)(iii), the immediately prior debt collector is the debt collector immediately preceding the current debt collector. For example, if ABC debt collector returns a debt to the creditor and the creditor places the debt with XYZ debt collector, ABC debt collector is the immediately prior debt collector for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(4)(iii).

2. Examples. The following examples illustrate the rule.

i. After obtaining a consumer’s email address in accordance with the procedures in § 1006.6(d)(4)(i) or (ii), ABC debt collector communicates with the consumer about the debt using that email address and the consumer does not opt out. ABC debt collector returns the debt to the creditor, who places it with XYZ debt collector. XYZ debt collector communicates with the consumer about the debt using the email address obtained by ABC debt collector. Assuming that the requirements of § 1006.6(d)(3)(ii) are satisfied, XYZ debt collector may have a bona fide error defense to civil liability for any unintentional third-party disclosure that occurs during that communication because a prior debt collector (i.e., ABC debt collector) obtained the email address in accordance with the procedures in § 1006.6(d)(4)(i) or (ii), the immediately prior debt collector (i.e., ABC debt collector) used the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt, and the consumer did not opt out of such communications by ABC debt collector.

ii. After obtaining a consumer’s email address in accordance with the procedures in § 1006.6(d)(4)(i) or (ii), ABC debt collector communicates with the consumer about the debt using that email address and the consumer does not opt out. ABC debt collector returns the debt to the creditor, who places it with EFG debt collector. EFG debt collector communicates with the consumer about the debt using the email address obtained by ABC debt collector, and the consumer does not opt out. EFG debt collector returns the debt to the creditor, who places it with XYZ debt collector. XYZ debt collector communicates with the consumer about the debt using the email address obtained by ABC debt collector and used by EFG debt collector. Assuming that the requirements of § 1006.6(d)(3)(ii) are satisfied, XYZ debt collector may have a bona fide error defense to civil liability for any unintentional third-party disclosure that occurs during that communication because a prior debt collector (i.e., ABC debt collector) obtained the email address in accordance with the procedures in § 1006.6(d)(4)(i) or (ii), the immediately prior debt collector (i.e., EFG debt collector) used the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt, and the consumer did not opt out of such communications by EFG debt collector.

iii. After obtaining a consumer’s email address in accordance with the procedures in § 1006.6(d)(4)(i) or (ii), ABC debt collector communicates with the consumer about the debt using that email address and the consumer does not opt out. ABC debt collector returns the debt to the creditor, who places it with EFG debt collector, who chooses not to communicate with the consumer by email. EFG debt collector returns the debt to the creditor, who places it with XYZ debt collector. XYZ debt collector communicates with the consumer about the debt using the email address obtained by ABC debt collector. Section 1006.6(d)(4)(iii) does not provide XYZ debt collector with a bona fide error defense to civil liability for any unintentional third-party disclosure that occurs during that communication because the immediately prior debt collector (i.e., EFG debt collector) did not use the email address to communicate with the consumer about the debt.

6(d)(5) Procedures for telephone numbers for text messages.

1. Complete and accurate database. Section 1006.6(d)(5)(i) and (ii) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send a text message to a telephone number if, among other things, the debt collector confirms, using a complete and accurate database, that the telephone number has not been reassigned from the consumer to another user. For purposes of § 1006.6(d)(5)(i) and (ii), the database established by the FCC in In re Advanced Methods to Target & Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls (33 FCC Rcd. 12024 (Dec. 12, 2018)) qualifies as a complete and accurate database, as does any commercially available database that is substantially similar in terms of completeness and accuracy to the FCC’s database.

Paragraph 6(d)(5)(i).

1. Response to telephone call by consumer. Section 1006.6(d)(5)(i) provides that, for purposes of § 1006.6(d)(3)(i), a debt collector may send a text message to a telephone number if, among other things, the consumer used the telephone number to communicate by text message with the debt collector about the debt. Section 1006.6(d)(5)(i) does not apply if the consumer used the telephone number to communicate only by telephone call with the debt collector about the debt.

Paragraph 6(d)(5)(ii).

1. Prior consent. See comment 6(d)(4)(i)(B)–1 for guidance concerning how a consumer may provide prior consent directly to a debt collector. See comment 6(d)(4)(i)(B)–2 for guidance concerning when a debt collector may treat a consumer who provides a telephone number for text messages as having consented directly to the debt collector.

6(e) Opt-out notice for electronic communications or attempts to communicate.

1. In general. Section 1006.6(e) requires a debt collector who communicates or attempts to communicate with a consumer electronically in connection with the collection of a debt using a specific email address, telephone number for text messages, or other electronic-medium address to include in such communication or attempt to communicate a clear and conspicuous statement describing a reasonable and simple method by which the consumer can opt out of further electronic communications or attempts to communicate by the debt collector to that address or telephone number. See comment 6(d)(4)(ii)(C)–1 for guidance on the meaning of clear and conspicuous. See comment 6(d)(4)(ii)(C)(4)–1 for guidance on the meaning of reasonable and simple. The following examples illustrate the rule.

i. Assume that a debt collector sends a text message to a consumer’s mobile telephone number. The text message includes the following instruction: “Reply STOP to stop texts to this telephone number.” Assuming that it is readily noticeable and legible to consumers, this instruction constitutes a clear and conspicuous statement describing a reasonable and simple method to opt out of receiving further text messages from the debt collector to that telephone number consistent with § 1006.6(e). No minimum type size is mandated.

ii. Assume that a debt collector sends the consumer an email that includes a hyperlink labeled: “Click here to opt out of further emails to this email address.” Assuming that it is readily noticeable and legible to consumers, this instruction constitutes a clear and conspicuous statement describing a reasonable and simple method to opt out of receiving further emails from the debt collector to that email address consistent with § 1006.6(e). No minimum type size is mandated.

iii. Assume that a debt collector sends the consumer an email that includes instructions in a textual format explaining that the consumer may opt out of receiving further email communications from the debt collector to that email address by replying with the word “stop” in the subject line. Assuming that it is readily noticeable and legible to consumers, this instruction constitutes a clear and conspicuous statement describing a reasonable and simple method to opt out of receiving further emails from the debt collector to that email address consistent with § 1006.6(e). No minimum type size is mandated.