Phone calls and text messages are the most effective ways to reach consumers in the debt collection world. Unsurprisingly, they are also the most heavily regulated modes of communication. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently made significant changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for calls and texts, and those changes have made it even more difficult for collectors to reach consumers about their past-due debt.

But there are ways collections agencies can reach consumers effectively and in compliance with regulations. In their webinar,  Open the Door to SMS for Debt Collection, TCN does an in-depth review of the recent changes, including the FCC’s changes to TCPA consent and exemptions, differentiating call and text blocking, and a check in on Florida’s “Mini-TCPA.” 

Here are three critical takeaways from their webinar:

Changes in TCPA Consent and Exemptions

The FCC introduced new regulations that will come into effect on July 20, 2023. Notably, the changes provide an exemption up to TCPA consent requirements for three calls within a 30-day period to residential landlines. The FCC has also mandated that, to the extent a collector relies on this exemption, a phone number and automated mechanism for opt-out requests must be provided. It is important to note that these opt-out requirements do not apply if consent has been given.

Differentiating Call and Text Blocking

The webinar also highlights the distinctions between call blocking and text blocking regulations. The FCC has granted Carriers the ability to block calls. However, this comes with certain requirements as carriers are now mandated to block certain calls and must provide immediate notification to the caller that the call has been blocked. The FCC is also becoming more particular with the texts that they require or expect carriers to block. So, it is crucial to keep an eye out for any aberrations in call patterns, right party contacts, and text message bounce backs, which could indicate that carriers are blocking calls or texts.

Florida and the “Mini-TCPA”

While Florida originally set the bar with its plaintiff friendly TCPA framework, a recent amendment has scaled back some of those requirements. The amendment narrowed the auto-dialer issue, gave callers more ways to demonstrate consent, and created a cure period for texting issues. These changes were made retroactive in an effort to address some of the class-action issues plaguing debt collectors in Florida.

Get the full breakdown from TCN. Watch Open the Door to SMS for Debt Collection.

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