There are rules related to how a debt collector can make contact via social media, and they must provide a way to opt out of getting messages.
Social media and email services are already brimming with aggressive ads and eerily convincing scams, but thanks to new rules approved by a US government agency, debt collectors have now received the official green light for reaching out to customers to seek payment for unpaid dues. From giants like Google and Verizon to local establishments, brands have struggled to contain situations that often end in duping users who are not particularly well-versed in digital life. A problem that the latest change is only likely to make worse.
Social media platforms like Instagram are already reeling from account hacks and misinformation. Amazon has struggled with shady sellers that pay buyers to post positive reviews and boost rankings. Bogus crypto coin scams have duped both users and creators on TikTok, and it is no stranger to adware scams either. Not to mention, Twitter has been the playground for sham cryptocurrencies for some time now. As if this barrage of cons and swindle-jobs wasn’t enough, users also have to deal with targeted ad emails, spam calls, and tagging on social media.
Debt collectors have now been added to the digital solicitation list. As per new rules approved by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and now in effect, debt collection agencies and their representatives can send emails to their clients or text them. These texts seeking payment for unpaid debts can be regular messages or even direct messages on social media platforms. While the new debt collection rules sound a tad worrisome at first, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act acts as a safeguard and ensures that debt collectors don’t end up harassing users by haranguing them repeatedly through the multiple points of contact at their disposal.
New Debt Collector Powers Are Not Limitless
As per the updated Debt Collection Rule, a debt collector cannot call a customer more than seven times in a seven-day span. Once a representative has held a telephone conversation, it is forbidden for them to call again within the next seven days. As far as reaching out on social media, a debt collection agency can only reach out to clients via a direct message, and not via a publicly visible message. In addition, debt collectors need to identify themselves before reaching out. More importantly, users must be given a choice to opt out of being contacted by a debt collection party on social media.
Then there are voicemails, which CFPB puts in the category of “limited-content message.” If a debt collection agency is dropping a voicemail, it must include details such as the name of the business, a phone number that users can call back, and an explicit request asking them to contact their debt collection agency. Of course, call scams are very much a reality, and users are advised to make sure that they ask relevant questions before sharing sensitive information, especially when financial details are involved, and whether the conversation is taking place on social media, over the phone, or via any other method.
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