Creditors already have a variety of ways to reach out to their customers, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has added a new one: social media. They now have access to the DMs of millions of debtors in the United States.
Critics fear that the texts will be lost online, resulting in data breaches and the spread of new scams.
Advocates contend that the change is simply a modernization of guidelines that were formed in the 1970s.
The 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which governs how debt collectors can notify debtors, was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on September 20, 1977. Certain debt recovery practices are prohibited by the act, which also necessitates debt collectors to recognize themselves while conversing with consumers and to validate debts at the consumer’s request. The purpose of the Act was to put an end to abusive and unfair debt collection practices.
“We are finally leaving 1977 behind and developing a debt collection system that works for consumers and industry in the modern world,” then-CFPB director Kathleen Kraninger said in an October 2020 statement.
The new law also requires creditors to contact defaulters privately rather than through public postings.
The creditors simply cannot send a message without first identifying themselves and explaining why they are contacting the debtor. They must identify themselves.
Debtors must also have the option of opting out of receiving messages on a particular social media platform.
A new phone conversation limit is also established by the rule. People with various debts may receive up to a dozen calls per week, and each debt can receive up to seven calls per week.
Critics argue that this creates new opportunities for miscommunication. Particularly since some people do not have constant internet access. Even if messages about past-due bills are sent privately, they can end up in the wrong hands.
According to CBS News, roughly one-third of Americans with a credit report has a debt sent to a collection agency, implying that the rule could affect tens of millions of people.