Collector - April 2021 - 24

Section 1006.6(d)(3). Under that provision of
the rule, in the event of an inadvertent thirdparty disclosure, the debt collector's policies
and procedures must " confirm and document "
that the email giving rise to the claim:
* Was sent to an email address
authorized via one of the three Reg F
email procedures set forth at Section
1006.6(d)(4)(i)-(iii); and
* Was not directed to an email address
that the debt collector knows has led to
a prohibited third-party disclosure in
the past.
The email procedures referred to above
appear in Reg F at Section 1006.6(d)(4)(i), (ii),
and (iii). They are, respectively:
* Procedures based on communication
between the consumer and the debt
collector;
* Procedures based on communication by
the creditor, which requires a detailed
notice from the creditor to the consumer
that meets specific requirements set forth
in the rule; and
* Procedures based on communication
by the prior debt collector.
Each of these email procedures gives the
consumer an opportunity, either expressly
or impliedly, to opt in to receiving email
communications from a debt collector via
a specific email address. (And, as discussed
above, they all come with the requirement
of a reasonable and simple way to opt out of
receiving additional emails at that specified
email address.)

BIG REQUIREMENT: AN OPT-OUT
MECHANISM
The opt-out requirement applies to
all communications and attempts to
communicate about a debt with a consumer
via email. The rule states that debt collectors
must include in every email to a consumer
about a debt, " 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 [email] address. "
So the rule tells us that the opt-out
mechanism must be " reasonable and simple, "
but what does that mean? According to the

24

official interpretations, it means that the
opt-out can be a hyperlink in the footer, e.g.,
" Click here to opt out of further emails to
this email address, " or it can be an instruction
in the email that the consumer can opt-out
by replying with the word " STOP " in the
subject line. But it cannot be a mechanism
that requires a consumer to opt out via mail,
telephone or a website-unless the email
includes a hyperlink to that website. For more
information, including the CFPB's examples,
see the comments 6(e)-1.i-iii at Supplement I.
In short, you need to make your opt-out
mechanism as simple as possible for the
consumer.
Whatever the exact mechanics of your optout mechanism, it must be communicated in
every email to the consumer via a " clear and
conspicuous statement. "
The CFPB has defined " clear and
conspicuous " to mean not only " readily
understandable, " but also-when applied to
written communications like emails- " readily
noticeable and legible to the consumer. " And,
while the rule doesn't specify a minimum font
size here, it's best to keep it simple.
Note that the opt-out mechanism in
the email cannot require that consumer-
directly or indirectly-to " pay any fee " to
opt out, nor can it require that consumer
to " provide any information other than the
consumer's opt-out preferences, " which
expressly include the email address to which
the opt-out request applies.
At the same time, the rule does not expressly
prohibit a request (as opposed to a requirement)
in the opt-out mechanism that the consumer
provide optional information about his or her
communications preferences.
But given the prohibition against requiring
the consumer to " provide any information other
than the consumer's opt-out preferences, " debt
collectors will want to be crystal clear about
the fact that any request for the consumer's
communication preferences in an opt-out
mechanism does not need to be completed in
order for the consumer to opt out and that the
consumer can complete the opt out without
providing the requested optional information.
We'll dive into the three Reg F email
procedures in depth in the next installment
of this series, but before we do, let's cover

one big twist in these procedures: emails to a
consumer's employer-provided email address.

EMAILS TO A CONSUMER'S
WORKPLACE
As a general matter, Reg F prohibits debt
collectors from directing emails to a
consumer's workplace by means of a general
prohibition on emails to employer-provided
email addresses. That may sound simple, but
there is more to the requirement. The general
prohibition appears in Section 1006.6(b)
(3), but it's not mentioned explicitly in the
provisions pertaining to the " safe-harbor "
email procedures.
The bureau does, however, provide
an explicit cross-reference in the official
interpretations at comment 6(b)(3)-2,
regarding prohibitions on communications
directed to a consumer at his or her place of
employment, to ensure that you don't miss this
potential trap.
That cross reference at comment 6(b)(3)-2
directs you to comment 22(f)(3), which states
that under the " unfair and unconscionable "
provisions of 1006.22, the general prohibition
on sending an email to a consumer's employerprovided email address does not apply-even
if the debt collector knows the email address
to be an employer-provided email address-if
the debt collector uses an email address
described in the email procedures based on
communications between the consumer and
the debt collector (i.e., Section 1006.6(d)

LEARN
MORE 
ACA members can explore
the Reg F Resource Center
to view related ACA Huddle
recordings, access presentation
materials, read articles and
more. Find it here: 
www.acainternational.org/
about/huddle-cfpb-series. 

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.acainternational.org/about/huddle-cfpb-series http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Collector - April 2021

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