You might want to be careful accepting friend and direct message requests on social media.
Thanks to policy changes introduced under the Trump administration, debt collectors are legally allowed to track you down and contact you on social media.
Changes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act went into effect Tuesday (November 30) and now allow debt collectors to expand their tactics in reaching out to you –– and it's doesn't stop at social media. Debt collectors can now text and email you, too.
The changes to the Act were introduced by the former administration –– who became friendlier to businesses. Trump-appointed Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Kathy Kraninger said the new rules were to proposed to "modernize the legal regime for debt collection."
Another cost of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, is an increase in amount of people who owe a debt. According to a report by The Washington Post, at the end of September 2021, 77.6 million consumers had at least one debt in collections totaling $188 billion in outstanding bills.
Collection industry experts hailed the changes, noting that email and text is most people's preferred method of communication.
Mark Neeb, head of the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals called the new rule "a small step forward in modernizing communication with consumers."
So what exactly is in the new rule to protect consumers from being bombarded with messages?
Protecting Consumers from Harassment
The new rules do provide some guidelines for the expanded communication allowed between debt collectors and consumers.
For one, if a debt collector reaches out to you on social media, the message has to be private –– they can't just post on your timeline for friends and family to see.
And, there's no sneaky requests allowed either. If the collector messages you or friend requests on social media, they have to say upfront that they're attempting to collect a debt.
Debt collectors also have to give you a way to opt-out of social media communications, too.
Click here to read up on your rights as a consumer.