Collector - September 2020 - 41

COMPLIANCE

Washington requires all debt collectors
(both in-state and out-of-state) to be
licensed. As a result, everyone conducting
licensed collection calls in Washington
state should review R.C.W. 19.16.250(19)
and ensure that their caller ID policies and
procedures conform with the law.

SOUTH DAKOTA
In its most recent legislative session,
South Dakota amended S.D.C.L.
Section 54-4-77, which now expressly
prohibits any "person employed by a
licensee" from "caus[ing] misleading
information to be transmitted to users
of caller identification technologies or
otherwise block[ing] or misrepresent[ing]
the identity of the caller or entity ..."
(Emphasis added.)
The amended statute, however, falls
under the chapter of the South Dakota
Codified Laws that governs "Money Lending
Licensees," i.e., Chapter 54-4 of the S.D.C.L.
According to testimony during the 2015
South Dakota House of Representatives
hearings that led to the enactment of 544-77, Division of Banking Director Bret
Afdahl said the statute's prohibitions were
intended to apply to licensed money lenders
in South Dakota.
"[T]he [FDCPA] applies to third-party
collectors ... [F]irst-party collectors are not
covered by the [FDCPA, but they] would be
covered by the language of [54-4-77]," he said.
In testimony before the South Dakota
Senate days later, Afdahl reiterated that
54-4-77 takes "certain provisions from
the [FDCPA] and appl[ies] those to firstparty lenders."
During those hearings, Afdahl clarified
that the term "employed" in 54-4-77 means
"people working directly for the [moneylender] licensee."
Given that S.D.C.L. Section 54-4-77 applies
only to first-party collection activities by
licensed money lenders in South Dakota,
the caller ID blocking prohibition of 54-477(7) would not appear to address collection
activities by third-party debt collection
agencies or other first-party debt collectors
not licensed under S.D.C.L. Chapter 54-4.

COLLECTOR 09.20

Nevertheless, the South Dakota Attorney
General's Division of Consumer Protection
has cautioned that-under the right
circumstances-a debt collector's use of
caller ID blocking could, in combination
with other facts, theoretically run afoul of the
state's deceptive trade practices act, although
no enforcement actions have ever been
brought on those grounds. Likewise, ACA's
compliance team could find no cases asserting
violations of the federal FDCPA based on
alleged violations of S.D.C.L. Section 54-4.77.

MAINE
Maine has included "blocked caller identification
information" in its definition of "misleading or
inaccurate" caller ID information, but only "to
the extent consistent with federal law."
This definition expressly applies only in the
context of Maine Revised Statutes Annotated,
Title 10, Part 3, Chapter 225, which addresses
"Telephone Solicitation" (emphasis added),
meaning that the definition almost certainly
does not apply to debt collection calls.
To date, however, this provision of Maine
law has not been tested in or interpreted
by any court, so agencies that make calls
to Maine consumers would do well to be
cognizant of this relatively new provision
of Maine's automated telephone solicitation

prohibition statute and make their own
determination about whether and how it
might apply to their calling campaigns.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION
In sum, while caller ID blocking (as
opposed to other caller ID manipulations)
does not pose a significant compliance
concern, pitfalls do exist for the unwary.
Avoid caller ID blocking in Washington
state, and proceed with caution in states
like Maine and South Dakota, where the
application of relevant state statutes may
not be clear or may depend on the caller's
identity and relationship with the creditor.
And never forget-as at least one federal
court has indicated-that caller ID blocking
could pose a problem under the federal
FDCPA with the right facts, just as it could
theoretically constitute a deceptive trade
practice under applicable state law in
combination with other activities.
Colin Winkler is ACA International's
corporate counsel.
To learn more, ACA members can read ACA
SearchPoint documents #1168, Caller ID
Issues; #3067, State Caller ID Laws; and #3066,
TCPA: Caller ID.

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