When Debt Collection Meets Technology

Madeleine Jones
November 15, 2017

man is using computer, fdcpa violationAdvances in technology do not shield creditors from their responsibilities and potential liability for violating consumer rights under the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. These responsibilities include notifying consumers in a timely and secure manner that protects their privacy.

Email Isn’t Good Enough

Many creditors are resorting to the use of emails to send collection notices to consumers. The law requires creditors to identify themselves and the reason for contact within the email’s subject line. However, there are many flaws in using emails to notify creditors of debts. Emails can be hacked by thieves or read by someone other than the intended recipient. Spam filters can block or remove emails from the recipient’s inbox. Consumers may not open an email with an attachment sent from an unknown sender. Finally, individuals may have multiple email accounts or may not check an email account on a regular basis.

For these reasons, the law requires creditors to comply with provisions within the Electronic Signature in Global Commerce Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Among the many requirements is that creditors must send written notices to consumers within five days of an electronic communication if they do not have a validation notice that the email has been received and read. This helps ensure that consumers receive the communications required by law.

Court Rulings

While rules from the CFPB are slow to develop, the courts have ruled that advances in technology and consumer contact preferences do not absolve creditors from their compliance obligations. These include protecting the consumer’s right to privacy, safeguarding of personal information and ensuring timely communication. An FDCPA violation attorney in Nevada can help consumers protect their rights and pursue claims against creditors whose actions violate these rights.

Protecting Consumer Rights

Consumers should exercise extreme caution when receiving communications via email from supposed creditors. Scammers realize that such emails are likely to be opened due to the fear they elicit and often load such emails with malware and tracking tools that can be used to steal bank account and other personal information. Moreover, opening and responding to such emails can cause consumers to forego their legal rights under the FDCPA. For this reason, it is advisable for anyone facing collection actions to speak with an FDCPA violation attorney before opening or responding to such emails.