Debt Collectors Can Now Find You on Social Media

If you are hiding from creditors, you are probably used to ignoring calls from unknown numbers. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently finalized a rule that makes it easier for debt collectors to connect with people via social media, text messages, or email. Here’s what you need to know.

New rules for debt collectors

The CFPB has issued a “final rule” (their term for the amendment) clarifying prohibitions on harassment and bad practice by debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The new rule will take effect at the end of 2021. Since the FDCPA was originally adopted in 1977, there was no language or instructions for social media, text, or email. Unfortunately for people struggling to pay off their debt, the clarification makes these new technologies a fair game.

However, the CFPB clarification also includes some new protections:

Debt collectors are considered to have violated federal law if a debt collector calls a specific person in connection with collecting a specific debt more than seven times within seven consecutive days or within seven consecutive days of a telephone conversation with that person. man about duty.

Our rule also gives consumers the option to opt out of receiving text messages and emails from debt collectors, or otherwise limit the way debt collectors can communicate with them. He also clarifies the use of voicemail and other messages left behind by debt collectors.

In terms of voicemail, the Rule reiterates the FDCPA’s specific ban on the debt collector from repeatedly contacting borrowers by phone, but now clarifies that calls that go directly to voicemail (i.e., Silent Voicemail) are also included in their defining what constitutes a contact.

However, according to a CFPB briefing , there is no limit to the number of texts or emails that debt collectors can send to consumers. While the rule also requires debt collectors to provide opt-out options, it still opens up a new line of communication that can be easily abused, especially if consumers are not fully aware of their opt-out options.

“Nobody wants unwanted communication,” Linda June, senior political adviser to the nonprofit Americans for Financial Reform, recently told USA Today . “But people on low incomes, a lot of them use pay-as-you-go plans, so it’s a big problem if the collector gets that number. It costs this person money, especially money that he may not have. “

Another issue is fraud, as text fraud has become an increasingly serious problem in recent years . Earlier this year, the FTC issued statements warning consumers of text scammers who use phishing emails through links and unwanted attachments.

“Unfortunately, there will be many scammers who pretend to be debt collectors by sending messages and emails,” commented April Kühnhoff of the National Center for Consumer Rights in an interview with CBS News .

Know your rights

For more information on your rights when dealing with debt collectors check out this Lifehacker post . If a collector is stalking you, you can file a complaint with the CFPB online or by calling 855-411-2372, and the FTC online or by calling 877-382-4357. You can also report them to your state’s attorney general .

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