We are all aware of the dreaded phone calls from debt collectors. According to new rules by the CFPB, debt collectors can now text, email and DM you on social media. Meaning that new friend requests or follow on Instagram might be from a debt collector.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules permit debt collectors to reach out to people on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
However, strict rules govern how debt collectors can reach out to you. For starters, debt collectors messaging you should do so discretely through a private message.
“There aren’t messages that are going to be poste to your timeline. You’re not going to be posted to see Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday, you owe us $500, Happy Birthday,” said Matt Smith, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Banking, an agency that regulates collection agencies.
Additionally, debt collectors must identify themselves and must also offer an option for you to stop receiving messages from them. This is because debt collectors are prohibited by the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act from harassing, using abusive and unfair debt collection practices, and false and misleading representation by debt collectors.
These new rules come more than a year after the CFPB announced plans to integrate technology into their processes. In a blog post, Kathleen Kraniger, director of the CFPB in October 2020, said, “Advances in technology in particular have transformed how we communicate. But debt collectors and consumers have been trapped in time wrap. They have been required to communicate with each other under standards congress enacted in 1977.”
These new rules, however, are not free from criticism. For example, the CFPB bans debt collectors from calling more than seven times within a seven-day period or within seven days after initiating a conversion about a particular debt.
With the new rules allowing debt collectors to message people directly, they fail to mention how often they should make contact. In addition to this, the process could be rigorous, seeing how many people go by the same name on social media. A debt collector could have to do the odious task of filtering through dozens of names to reach the right one. And even then, there is no guarantee that that person is the right receiver.
Besides that, social media apps have a filter that could send the debt collectors’ message straight to spam. In that case, a debt collector’s message will not reach the intended person.
According to the new CFPB rules, a debt collector is supposed to identify themselves, but there is a chance that someone may be a fake debt collector. To ward off scammers, you must ask yourself if you truly owe XYZ a certain amount of money. Secondly, you should not click on links sent into your DM if you do not know who they are from. Also, if a “debt collector” uses threats to collect a debt and refuses to give you their mailing address, chances are they are fake.