Debt collectors can DM, email and text you about unpaid bills. Here’s what you need to know.

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Yes, debt collectors can meet your DM.

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They can also text you, email you and reach you on your social media pages – via direct messages on Twitter TWTR,
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or instagram, or facebook on fb,
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Messenger – to collect unpaid debts, as per Updated Rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,

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The change, which brings the decades-old Fair Debt Collection Practices Act into motion with the digital age, took effect last Tuesday, November 30. While borrowers were not previously banned from contacting consumers over text or social media, per se – Since, when the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was first written, social media and text messaging did not yet exist – the revised rules, effective this week, aim to provide “Clear Rules of the Road” 2021 and beyond, the bureau says.

The first rule, first announced last year, makes it clear how debt collectors can use email, text messages, social media and other contemporary methods to communicate with consumers. The second explains the disclosures that borrowers must make when they first contact consumers.

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So with social media, for example, a debt collector might send you a friend or follower request – But they have to identify themselves as a debt collector, And in each message, they must also provide an easy way to opt out of receiving further communications from them on the social media platform – although there is no limit to the number of messages they can send.

And you don’t have to worry about your loans being circulated to your friends and family, because borrowers aren’t allowed to discuss your loan on your profile page, or in comments on your posts that your friends share. , can be viewed by your followers, your contacts or the public. Any communication regarding the loan should be done by private message. Read more here.

And while debt collectors can also contact borrowers by email and text messages, they should still be given a chance to opt out or unsubscribe from receiving those messages.

For debt recovery calls, New rules restrict how often collectors can ring consumers, Agencies are now limited to seven calls per week in collections. And if you have already had a phone conversation with the debt collector, they are prohibited from calling you again about that particular loan within seven days of your chat.

The amended rules also prohibit borrowers from suing or threatening to sue consumers over time-locked loans. In addition, borrowers are required to take specific steps to disclose the existence of the loan to the consumer before reporting the loan to a consumer reporting agency. These include talking to you about the loan by phone or in person, or sending an electronic communication (including social media) or snail mail about the loan, and waiting approximately 14 days for notice that the message or letter was not delivered. it was done . Read more here.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Kathleen L. “We’re finally getting back to 1977 and developing a debt collection system that works for consumers and industry in the modern world,” Kraninger said. a blog post last year,

But consumer advocates have expressed concerns about these digital communication methods for debt collection. NS The National Consumer Law Center summarizes some of its concerns here, such as the fact that collectors may use electronic communications such as email to contact consumers without their consent; The onus is on the consumer to opt out of these messages. The NCLC states that borrowers are required to opt-out rather than require consumer consent, which results in a higher chance of missed messages.

In addition, a person’s privacy may be violated if the text, email or DM is viewed by another person, including employers. And then there is the possibility that borrowers may message the wrong social media account. NCLC Staff Attorney April Kuenhoff Told CBS News that, “For example, if a debt collector wishes to send a private message to John Smith on Facebook, the collector must select the correct John Smith so that he does not send personal information about the alleged debt to the wrong person.”

And accepting a friend request or follower request from a debt collector can give the collector access to personal information that they share with their friends and family on social media.

It also opens up a new opportunity for potential scammers to hunt down consumers.

“I think it’s a Pandora’s box that could lead to more harassment, or just allow [debt collectors] “There’s a need to be more aggressive in a person’s life,” Christine Hines, legislative director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, told Businesshala. “There’s a minimum here in terms of security measures.”

What’s more, consumers can easily miss direct messages from borrowers if they aren’t active on those social media accounts, for example, or if their online accounts spam messages from people outside of their friends list. Filter by folder. Or they may think it is a scam. “If you’re a debt collector and you try to reach me by slipping in my DM, there’s a 0% chance I believe you’re actually a debt collector,” remembered a twitter user In response to the updated rules.

So some social media users were also not happy with this news. “It’s absolutely terrible,” made a tweet, “Having been on the bad end of debt collection in my life, I can attest to the worry around your phone or mailbox even you don’t answer/check them. It terrorizes people.” Adds new ways of doing things.”

Hines suggests that people become even more cautious about who they allow access to their social networks. “We already know it’s a forest [on social media], and this is only one other factor” that could put their identity and personal information at risk. and what kind of information they share.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes that Debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry, with over 8,000 debt collection firms in the United States.

Household debt in the US hit a record $14.6 trillion in the spring of 2021, according to the Federal Reserve. And Americans racked up $17 billion in credit card debt in the third quarter of 2021.

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