Consumers are well-protected when it comes to debt collection. One of the most rigorous rules in their favor is the 7-in-7 rule. This rule states that a creditor must not contact the person who owes them money more than seven times within a 7-day period.
Also, they must not contact the individual within seven days after engaging in a phone conversation about a particular debt. If you’re a creditor looking to stay on the right side of this rule, here are some things you’ll need to know about it.
What counts as a contact?
Creditors first need to know what counts as a contact under the 7-in-7 rule. The definition is quite broad and includes anything that could be reasonably considered an attempt to collect on a debt. This includes phone calls, text messages, emails, and even letters sent through the mail.
The rule also applies to any attempts to contact a person’s family, friends, or employer in an effort to collect the debt. Essentially, anything that could be considered harassment or coercion is off-limits.
The 7-in-7 rule is designed to protect consumers from being overwhelmed by creditors. If you know this going in, you’ll be able to establish a less-invasive approach to contacting consumers about their debt. For example, you might want to send one email per week instead of making daily phone calls.
Just remember that each 7-day period starts over after any type of contact is made. So, you’ll need to be careful about how often you’re reaching out.
What if they don’t respond?
If a debtor does not respond to your attempt at establishing contact, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The 7-in-7 rule still applies, even if the person you’re trying to reach is ignoring you.
It’s important to note that the 7-in-7 rule only applies to attempts made to collect a debt. This means that you’re free to contact a person as often as you like for other reasons.
For example, you could reach out to update them on the status of their account or to let them know about a policy change. As long as you’re not trying to collect on the specific debt outside of the 7-in-7 parameters.
What if the debtor claims not to owe the debt you’re trying to collect?
If the debtor denies owing the debt, you’ll need to send them a “validation notice.” This notice must include:
- The amount of the debt
- The name of the creditor you’re representing
- A statement that unless the debtor, within 30 days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the creditor
- A statement that if the debtor notifies the creditor in writing within the 30-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the creditor will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment against the debtor and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the debtor by the creditor
- The name, address, and telephone number of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor
The burdens placed on you as a creditor are good reasons to reach out to firms like ours that have experience and systems in place for dealing with debtors who claim not to owe their debts. This closes the door on risky back-and-forths.
When should you consider legal action, and how do you handle it without violating the FDCPA harassment protections?
You should consider legal action when the business or individual has failed to comply with your requests for payment, or when the debt is being disputed.
To avoid running aground with FDCPA, you should consider using an attorney to make the final contact. If you’d rather not take it that far – and with the potential cost of litigation, who could blame you – consider working with our debt recovery service to see other options and strategies that may work from those experienced in working within the confines of the law.
In this article, you’ve learned that the 7-in-7 rule limits the number of times you can contact a debtor during a 7-day period. This rule applies to all forms of communication, including calls, letters, texts, and emails.
You now know what counts as a contact, what happens when you get no response, and what to do if the individual claims not to owe the debt. Knowing the rights under this law is important, especially if you’re trying to collect. Southwest Recovery Services can help you navigate the 7-in-7 rule and give you the best chance of getting the money you’re owed. Contact them today to learn more!