State Updates: Colorado and Massachusetts
Colorado – New Law Requires Updating Validation Notices and Letters with New Website Address
On June 30, 2020, the Governor of Colorado signed a legislative cleanup bill amending Colorado Revised Statutes 5-16-105, section (3)(c) regarding communication in connection with debt collection. The amendment requires collection agencies to update the reference to the state of Colorado’s website in their initial written communications with consumers with the following verbiage:
“FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLORADO FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT, SEE HTTPS://COAG.GOV/OFFICE-SECTIONS/CONSUMER-PROTECTION/CONSUMER-CREDIT-UNIT/COLLECTION-AGENCY-REGULATION/.”
The law also requires collectors to update the website address if it is changed by the state’s attorney general. Additionally, if the website information is included on the back of a letter, debt collectors must include a statement on the front notifying the consumer of that fact.
So, what does this mean? The bill took effect upon signing and no grace period was included to give agencies time to comply. Validation notices should be updated to include the reference to the website immediately.
Massachusetts – Prohibition Against Outbound Calls Not in Effect
Members will recall, on May 6, 2020, the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted ACA International’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in a lawsuit challenging Massachusetts Attorney General’s March 26, 2020, Emergency Order prohibiting debt collectors from initiating telephone calls to debtors or lawsuits to collect a debt.
In 940 CMR 35:00, Unfair and Deceptive Debt Collection Practices During the State of Emergency Caused by COVID-19, “Prohibition on Debt Collection Telephone Calls with Regard to Debt Collectors Only,” provides that:
[f]or the ninety (90) days following the effective date of this regulation or until the State of Emergency Period expires, whichever occurs first, it shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice for any debt collector to initiate a communication with any debtor via telephone, either in person or by recorded audio message to the debtor’s residence, cellular telephone, or other telephone number provided by the debtor as his or her personal telephone number, provided that a debt collector shall not be deemed to have initiated a communication with a debtor if the communication by the debt collector is in response to a request made by the debtor for said communication.
To date, the Massachusetts Attorney General has failed to challenge the Court’s ruling. She has apparently opted to let the temporary restraining order on the state’s prohibition on debt collection calls expire on its own terms or wait until it is terminated by the Court.
So, what does this mean? The Court’s temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction did not include a date upon which the injunction expires. Since the Judge did not lift the temporary restraining order and temporary injunction, suspension of the Order presumably continued until 90 days following the effective date of the Massachusetts’s March 26, COVID–19 Emergency Order when it expired. In other words, it would appear that the Attorney General’s rule expired on June 26, 2020.
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This alert is intended for members of the Receivables Management Association International and is for informational purposes only and is in no way intended to provide legal advice. Members are encouraged to consult with an attorney of their choice for legal advice concerning this matter.