The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is expected to provide the first glimpse this week into how it will regulate debt collection, and banks are anxiously awaiting information about whether the agency will limit how frequently they can contact consumers.

"If the CFPB adopts a very restrictive attitude with regards to call frequency such that it causes creditors and third-party collectors alike to significantly reduce the frequency of contact they have with consumers who owe money, it may vary dramatically affect the success of collection efforts in the sense of dollars that are collected from them," Christopher J. Willis, a partner at Ballard Spahr in Atlanta, told Bloomberg BNA in a phone interview. "And that business impact could be larger than the burden of building systems or designing compliance around whatever the CFPB requires."

No federal agency was given the authority to issue general implementing regulations prior to the creation of the CFPB, such as the prohibition of collectors from engaging in unfair, deceptive, abusive and other unlawful collection practices. However, more regulation of call frequency could present negative consequences for consumers.

If banks have no alternative to contacting the consumer and getting a settlement or working out a payment plan, the creditor has only one choice: a lawsuit, said Ballard Spahr's Willis, chair of the firm's Consumer Financial Services Litigation Group.

"So the worry is, by clamping down on contact frequency, you push more consumers into debt collection litigation, which is not better for them, and you extend the period of time within which they are experiencing adverse credit reporting," he said. "So I personally don't believe a reduction in contact frequency is even good for consumers, but it is one of the things that is under consideration."