Debt collectors can now send you text messages, emails, and DMs on social media: NPR

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In the illustration in this photo, the Facebook and Instagram apps are displayed on the iPhone screen.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The next time someone makes friends with you on Facebook or tries to follow you on Instagram, it could be a debt collector.

New rule Approved by the Consumer Finance Agency, which came into effect on Tuesday, provides how collection agencies can email people, send text messages, and send messages on social media to ask for repayment of unpaid debt. I am.

Former CFPB director Kathy Lean L. Kraningel, who oversaw the rule changes, said last year that it was a necessary update to the Fair Debt Collection Practices more than 40 years ago.

“We are finally leaving 1977 behind and developing a debt collection system that works for consumers and industry in the modern world,” Kraningel said. Said in a blog post..

However, consumer advocates say that if a borrower is contacted online, they risk missing important debt information or being a prey to illegal fraud.

“The rules are really disappointing and in many ways worrisome,” said April Künhof, a staff lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center.

New rules set limits on debt collectors

Under the new rules, debt collectors who contact you on social media must identify themselves as debt collectors, but can attempt to join the network by sending a friend request. Collectors must provide the option to opt out of online contact and all messages they send must be private. Collectors cannot post to a page if they are seen by contacts or the general public.

The collector can also send an email or text message to the debtor, but must provide the ability to opt out. Industry insiders praised this move as a welcome change to the old methods currently used in the collection industry.

“Consumers of the collection process recognize that they prefer to use email and text messaging over other outdated methods such as fax, as outlined in current law, and others in the financial services market. It is worth standing in equal competition with the people of the world, “Mark Neeb, CEO of ACA International, an industry group for debt collectors, said in a statement.

Proponents say consumers pay the price

Kuehnhoff said consumers should have been given the ability to opt in, rather than opt out of electronic messages. She suggested that consumers who don’t check social media regularly or miss emails may not be able to see important information about debt. Many people also don’t have regular access to the Internet, she added.

By allowing debt collectors to send emails, send texts, and reach consumers using social media, criminals can gain new ways to trick people into money. increase.

“Even before the new rules come into effect, I’ve actually already received my first spam debt collection email,” she said. “So surely we should expect more villains who are trying to trick people into paying for them on suspicion of debt,” he said.

Kuehnhoff suggested that consumers should not click on links from strangers and said they could report issues with the debt collection message to the CFPB.

New rules were devised during the Trump administration, which made the bureau more business-friendly than before.Craningel Resignation In January, at the request of President Biden, who appointed Rohit Chopra as the new director of the agency.

The new rules also set a limit on how often debt collectors can call you. The agency is limited to 7 calls per week for each account being collected.

Debt collectors can now send you text messages, emails, and DMs on social media: NPR

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