There are a lot of ways that a debt collector can contact you, and now, a direct message on social media is one of them.
Updates to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act are announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that allows debt collectors to contact debtors via email, text messages and social media accounts.
This change to the Act does outline restrictions and limitations for collection agencies using social media to contact debtors. However, these updates to the debt collection system will affect millions of Americans. These changes are developing the debt collection industry for the modern world.
These rules were originally approved in 2020 and went into effect in late November of 2021. The former president of the CFPB Kathleen L. Kraninger updated the standards so these debt collection systems can work in the modern world and reflect how consumers and industry are using modern technology. There is much concern over how these new ruling will work for consumers.
Rules for debt collectors using social media
When contacting someone through social channels, the debt collector must abide by the following rules:
- The message must be sent through direct messages (DMs) – This prohibits collectors from posting and trying to contact you publicly. Instead, they must send you a private message.
- They must identify themselves as debt collectors right away – They cannot even send you a friend request without first identifying who they are and why they are trying to contact you.
- They must give you the option to opt out of receiving messages on social media platforms.
Opt-out options are also available for text and email options, but current legislation does not outline how they plan to do so.
What do consumer advocates have to say
Attorneys from the National Consumer Law Center warn of the invasiveness of these practices. In fact, they cite that it may encourage the misconduct of debt collectors, making it easier to harass debtors. Another concern is ensuring that the debt collector is actually contacting the right person, as social media may make it much easier for collectors to reach out to the wrong person.
In addition, these new rules may make vulnerable populations even more vulnerable by opening them up to illegal scams. In addition, it gives borrowers less control of how they can be contacted. The updates also have the potential to decrease the amount of information available to the debtor and may lead to unethical collection practices.
These updates may give criminals additional ways to scam people online. They suggest avoiding clicking on links sent by people they do not know and to report any issues to the CFPB.
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