Debt collectors can now track and contact people who owe them money via email and social media. The federal government okayed new rules for agencies to run after delinquent accounts.
Debt Collectors Now Have New Ways To Chase Down Delinquent Accounts
Last Tuesday, new debt collection rules went into effect. Changes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices expand the ways debt collectors can chase down delinquent accounts.
Specifically, it may mean millions of consumers can receive hundreds of email and text messages and requests to connect on their social media accounts.
These changes to the FDCPA give businesses more power to go after money owed them. During the administration of former President Donald Trump, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sympathized with the business community. As a result, the agency recognized the challenges in going after rogue customers.
The previous CFPB director, Kathy Kraninger, said the agency intended the rules to modernize the legal regime for debt collection.
However, Trump appointee Kraninger resigned to accommodate President Joe Biden’s request for appointees to voluntarily step down.
Increased Ways To Harass Customers
The third quarter of 2021 reported that 77.6 million consumers acquired at least one debt in collections. Liabilities totaled $188 billion in the form of outstanding balances.
The numbers are according to a report by TransUnion. Now, critics worry that the new rules can increase the ways collection agencies harass genuinely struggling customers.
In contrast, the collection industry praised the update. It argued that text and email are now the preferred methods for communication for many people.
“The CFPB’s debt collection rule is a small step forward in modernizing communications with consumers,” said Mark Neeb. He is the chief executive of ACA International, the association of credit and collection professionals.
Contact Limitations Still Exist
However, the new rules will still contain limitations. This is to ensure that people’s privacy remains protected. It also spares delinquent account holders from harassment, abuse, or unfair practices.
If agencies contact a delinquent payer on social media, the conversation should remain pirate. However, debt collectors cannot post notices that everybody can see on social media.
More importantly, debt collectors should state their intent clearly. Rules don’t allow them to send friend requests or private messages posing as a friend.
The company must make it clear they are adding a customer in its attempt to collect a debt. In addition, the customer must also have an opt-out from receiving further communications.
New CFPB Leadership To Monitor Debt Collectors Closely
With the CFPB under new leadership, the agency plans to monitor debt collectors and agencies more closely. According to new CFPB director Rohit Chopra, debt collectors must make themselves clear when contacting people.
“Too many people are hounded to pay debts they don’t even owe. Abuse and harassment by debt collectors are strictly prohibited under federal law, regardless of whether consumers are being contacted in person, over the phone, or on social media. The new debt collection rules will be useless unless they’re enforced.”
Watch the HealthWatch Wisconsin primer on The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – Explained:
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