Collector - September 2017 - 46

Working From Home
What possible issues could arise when allowing debt collectors to telecommute?

P

roviding employees with the ability to
telecommute instead of working in a
traditional office setting continues to
be a growing trend. There are many benefits
that can come from telecommuting, such as
improved productivity, less employee burnout
and greater job satisfaction. Employers have
cited benefits as well, such as reducing real
estate and overhead costs.
However, in a highly regulated industry
such as debt collection, can employers
realistically offer telecommuting
possibilities? While no clear-cut answer
exists for this issue, a review of state and
federal laws surrounding debt collection can
help employers determine the feasibility of
allowing debt collectors to work from home.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
does not specifically address the potential
for debt collectors to work remotely, but
its requirements would still certainly apply
to a debt collector working from home.
Technologies such as caller ID and email
may pose extra FDCPA risks when an
employee works from home and need to
be carefully considered. In addition to the
FDCPA, other federal laws that could affect
telecommuting would need to be addressed
as well.
Debt collectors must comply with certain
data security laws at their on-site operations.
If a collector works from home, these laws
still apply. One law in particular would be the
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which includes
a provision requiring companies to create
a written information security policy that
describes their security program to protect
customer information. This policy would
need to encompass any employees working
remotely.
If a telecommuting employee collects
medical debt, she would be subject to
the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act. HIPAA's Privacy and
Security Rules require collection agencies to
address the use of both electronic and physical
protected healthcare information, and these

46

requirements extend to any information
transmitted to and from a remotely based
employee's location.
Many states also have security breach laws.
These laws generally require a business to
make a disclosure to consumers in the event
consumers' personal information is breached.
Collection agencies will want to make sure
a home-based employee has systems and
processes in place to ensure compliance with
state security breach laws.
Debt collection agencies must consider
how state licensing requirements,
including branch office and manager
requirements, may apply to debt collectors
or other employees working remotely.
Although a few states have clarified how

their state licensing requirements apply to
collectors working remotely, many state
requirements do not specifically address
this topic.
For a more in-depth look at the issues
surrounding working remotely, ACA members
can review ACA SearchPoint™ document
#1301 Collecting From Home - What Your
Agency Should Know.
Have you checked out the member-only ACA
SearchPoint™ library? ACA SearchPoint™ is
filled with documents that put important
compliance information related to the FDCPA,
FCRA, TCPA, state laws and many other
topics at your fingertips. To access it, visit
www.acainternational.org/searchpoint.

Calling All Writers!

We're accepting articles from our readership.*

Collector magazine invites credit and collection professionals of
all levels into a community of experts who share their hard-won
experience through in-depth process and data-driven articles.
Send your article pitch or summary
to Anne Rosso May at either
» rosso@acainternational.org or
» Anne Rosso May
Collector Magazine
4040 West 70th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55435
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the Continuous Service Award

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