On May 6, 2016, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking and is now seeking public comment on implementation of the 2015 bipartisan Budget Act (The “Act”). The Act exempts autodialed calls “made solely to collect a debt owned to or guaranteed by the United States” from the TCPA’s prior expressed consent requirements. The Act allows the FCC to limit the frequency and duration of these calls and directs the FCC to issue regulations on the implementations of the Act’s TCPA amendments by August 2, 2016.
The FCC’s proposed rules would allow government debt collectors to robocall an individual three times per month to collect a debt. The rules would also make it so that the collection calls could only be made after a borrower becomes late on a payment, however, calls could be made to notify debtors about plans to keep them from defaulting on their loans.
Among other things, the FCC is seeking comment on questions such as which calls are covered by the phrase “solely to collect” and how the Commission should restrict the number and duration of such calls; the meaning of “owed to or guaranteed by the United States” and what is a debt owed to the United States; whether a person the caller believes to be the debtor but is not, are covered by the exception; and who may make the calls to debtors owing a debt to the United States.
The FCC also seeks comment on questions such as: should the Commission place limits on a covered caller using or transferring information obtained during covered calls in order to collect other debts or to address other matters; should the FCC encourage debtors hearing from live agents to discuss a debt and potential servicing options; are “servicing calls” considered debt collection calls and therefore covered under the exception; and how should the covered calls be synchronized with other laws and rules that more generally govern debt collection.
Comments on the proposed rule changes are due by June 6, 2016, and reply comments are due by June 21, 2016.