New debt collection rules now allow debt collectors to use emails, texts and social media messaging to track down consumers looking to repay their debts. Although the new rules change the way Minnesotans can be contacted by debt collectors, consumers still have control to specify which method of communication a debt collector can use.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce, which licenses collection agents and collection agencies that operate in Minnesota, is warning consumers to be aware of recent rule changes that may affect the experience of a consumer with the collection agency.
“If you are contacted by a debt collector, you can specify how you wish to be contacted,” said Grace Arnold, commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “You can tell the debt collector to stop contacting you by text, email, or social media, and tell them instead how you prefer to be contacted. As a consumer, you are still protected by the new rules.
The new debt collection rules are important because many rules and regulations in the debt collection industry have not changed since the 1970s. The new rules were issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and entered into effective November 30, 2021.
The new rules place more restrictions on how often collection agencies can contact consumers. A collection agency cannot attempt to call a consumer more than seven times within seven days for each account in collection. If the consumer speaks to the collection agency, that collection agency cannot call that consumer back to collect the account for an additional seven days, unless the consumer requests it.
Minnesota residents who feel they are being treated unfairly or engage with a debt collection agency that they do not want or think is legal should contact the Commerce Consumer Service Center at consumer. [email protected] or 651-539 -1600 or 800-657-3602.
You can also file a complaint online: mn.gov/commerce/consumers/fileaplainte/complaints – select Debt Collection as the area when filing the complaint.
The rules change the nature and content of the validation notice that debt collectors must provide to consumers, which now requires providing details of the debt to include:
• Disclosure of communication from the debt collector.
• The name and mailing address of the collection agent and the name of the consumer
and postal address.
• The account number, the name of
the original creditor and the current creditor
• The date of detail and a detail of the current amount of the debt
reflecting interest, charges, payments and
credits since the inventory date and
the current amount of debt.
• Information on consumer protection and information on consumer responses, including dispute prompts
• Rules now allow validation
to be given to the consumer orally or
electronically rather than by mail.
In addition, the rules determine when a collection agency can report the debt to the credit reporting agencies. In the past, some collection agencies placed or placed the debt on the consumer’s credit report and waited for the consumer to contact them. The new rules restrict this practice. Now, in most cases, the collection agency must speak to the consumer or send a letter or email about suspected debt before reporting the debt to the credit reporting agencies.