Debt Collectors Can Now Send Direct Messages on Borrowers' Social Media Accounts on Facebook, Instagram
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new ruling took effect on Tuesday, allowing debt collectors from collection agencies to text borrowers and send a direct message on their social media to seek repayment for unpaid debts.
NPR reported that former CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger oversaw the rule changes and noted that those were the updates needed to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Kranginer said in a blog post that they are leaving behind the 1977 outdated collection system and introducing a new way for consumers and industry that would complement the modern world.
Debt collectors who contact borrowers on their social media account would have to identify themselves as debt collectors under the new rules. However, debt collectors can attempt to join a person's network by sending them a friend request. Collectors must also give the borrowers the option to opt out of being contacted online.
Debt collectors cannot post the borrowers' page if it can be seen by their contacts or the public.
Debt Collectors Sending Direct Messages on Social Media Accounts
Kraninger said that debt collectors and consumers have been trapped in a time warp, noting that the two groups have been required to communicate with each other under standards Congress passed in 1977, according to a USA Today report.
The 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits harassing, abusive, and unfair debt collection practices. In addition, it bans false, misleading representations by debt collectors.
Collectors are urged not to call more than seven times in a seven-day period, per the CFPB Debt Collection Rule. However, there are no limits on how often a debt collector can send text, email, or private messages to borrowers.
The new rule only says that debt collectors are required to provide borrowers with an option to unsubscribe.
Meanwhile, a message through, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook must be private so that friends should not be able to see it, according to an NBC Connecticut News report.
A spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Banking, Matt Smith, said that the messages will not posted on the timeline of the borrowers.
Smith said that borrowers should first think about if they actually owe any debt if somebody is reaching out to them on Facebook or Twitter.
Industry officials welcomed the change to the methods of the outdated collection system.
Mark Neeb, CEO of ACA International, a trade association for debt collectors, said in a statement the consumers in the collection process deserve to be on a level playing field with others in the financial services marketplace.
April Kuehnhoff, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said that consumers should have been given the ability to choose electronic messages rather than being forced to opt out of them.
Kuehnhoff added that consumers who do not check social media regularly or miss an email may fail to see critical information about the debt.
In addition, many people do not have regular access to the internet either, according to the staff attorney.
Meanwhile, the staff attorney said consumers should refrain from clicking on links from people they do not know.
This article is owned by Latin Post.
Written by: Mary Webber
WATCH: Debt collectors can now contact you on social media - from ABC News
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