US creditors can now send a direct message to debtors on social media
Debt collectors can now contact Americans on social media and via text message, under new rules enacted by a US agency this week.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule opens the door for creditors to slip into the DMs of millions of Americans who have loans.
Critics say the messages could be lost online or lead to privacy invasions and a proliferation of new scams.
Proponents say the change is a simple update of the rules created in the 1970s.
The change, passed by the CFPB last year under the Trump administration, requires creditors to privately contact defaulters, meaning they can send direct messages but not post on your public page.
Consumers can opt out of these messages, but creditors don’t need permission to contact people. There are no rules for how many messages they can send.
Funders had argued that the change was necessary, as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which regulates the industry, became law in 1977, long before the creation of social media and mobile messaging.
The rule also creates a new limit for phone calls. You can make seven calls each week for a particular debt, but people with more debt can still be called dozens of times a week.
Debt collectors are also limited from contacting any consumer by phone within one week of talking to them about a specific debt.
Mark Neeb, CEO of the commercial group of debt collectors ACA International, said in a statement that the change represents “a small step in modernizing consumer communications.”
Critics say the option creates new ways in which communications don’t work, especially since some people don’t have constant access to the internet. Messages about overdue invoices, although private, could still be sent to the wrong person.
According to CBS News, about a third of Americans who have had a credit report have debt that has been sent to a collection agency, meaning the rule could affect tens of millions of people.
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