Debt collectors can now pursue you on social media about your outstanding debts
New regulations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that were established under Trump make it A-OK for collectors to DM you about money owed.
Starting this week, if you decide to friend or follow someone on social media you don’t recognize, they might surprise you with a debt collection notice in the app’s tiny font. That’s because for the first time, federal regulators have given debt collectors the ability to legally contact debtors via email, texts, and their social-media messages.
The new regulations went into effect Tuesday. In theory, they’re to “modernize” the decades-old rules under which debt collectors must operate when pursuing debtors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed back in 1977 to stop abusive debt-collection practices, before there was internet or Facebook. These changes that just rolled out were introduced over a year ago by the Trump administration, whose Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took a friendlier stance toward the business community. In her first major speech in 2019 as head of the CFPB, director Kathleen Kraninger said it was very important to her to “modernize the legal regime for debt collection.” After the changes happened, she released a statement that announced: “We are finally leaving 1977 behind and developing a debt collection system that works for consumers and industry in the modern world.”
To reassure consumers it hasn’t created a shark-feeding-frenzy situation, the CFPB posted an online explainer titled “Understand how the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule impacts you.” But consumer groups fear that by arming debt collectors with these additional avenues for debt collection, Americans will be exposed to millions of threatening or harassing emails, texts, and social-media messages they wouldn’t have received otherwise.
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