In December 2022, in People vs. Capital One (L.A. Sup. 22STCV36914),California’s Debt Collection Task Force entered into a settlement with Capital One, obligating Capital One to pay a civil money penalty of $1.45 million, $300,000 in investigative costs, and $250,000 in restitution arising out alleged call-frequency and cease-and-desist violations. The Capital One settlement includes a specific requirement that Capital One follow the “7-in-7” call-frequency rule that finds its genesis in Regulation F — even though the settlement itself did not mention Regulation F. Specifically, the Capital One Settlement states:
On or prior to the Effective Date, and continuing for a period of four (4) years after the Effective Date, Capital One shall implement (if not already implemented) and maintain policies and procedures designed to prevent debt collection calls on Capital One Consumer Credit Card Accounts made by or on behalf of Capital One to any California Resident “with such frequency as to be unreasonable and to constitute harassment” to the California Resident “under the circumstances,” within the meaning of California Civil Code section 1788.11(e). More specifically, with respect to each Capital One Consumer Credit Card Account held by any California Resident, Capital One shall not place or cause to be placed more than seven (7) debt collection calls on that account in any consecutive seven day period. This specific numerical limit on calling frequency shall apply to any debt collection calls made on behalf of Capital One with respect to that Capital One Consumer Credit Card Account, regardless of whether the calls are made by automated, manual, or other form of dialing, and regardless of whether the calls are placed or directed by employees of Capital One or employees of other persons or entities acting at the request, direction, or approval of Capital One and regardless of whether the One Consumer Credit Card Account, which efforts are made by anyone acting on behalf of or at the direction, request, or approval of Capital One. For the avoidance of doubt, promotional offers, customer service calls, calls to inform customers of potential fraud or identity theft activity and calls to investigate potential fraud or identity theft activity do not constitute “debt collection.”
In November 2021, the same Debt Collection Task Force, which includes Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Riverside county district attorney’s offices, entered into a settlement with Synchrony Bank obligating Synchrony Bank to pay $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company made unreasonably frequent or harassing phone calls to debtors in California.