Debt collectors can now send you a DM and here’s what the experts recommend
The following is a press release from the Better Business Bureau.
IDAHO FALLS – The debt collection process just got a little more interesting with recent changes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Among other things, the new changes allow debt collectors to use digital outreach channels like email, text, and yes, social media.
Does that mean a debt collector could instant message you? Yes. The good thing is that the new rules preserve the consumer’s right to privacy and respect without feeling threatened.
The Better Business Bureau is a trusted resource you can rely on when verifying the legitimacy of a debt collection agency and how to handle suspicious practices. Lots of key insights were provided by Todd Christensen, head of education at MoneyFit, a BBB-accredited debt repayment services organization in Boise.
What are the new changes?
Emails, text messages and private messages on social networks can now be used as communication channels. However, the courier must disclose their identity as the collection agent and give consumers the opportunity to opt out of receiving them. Unless you have given them your prior consent, debt collectors may not knowingly use your work email address to contact you.
What are the potential red flags consumers should watch out for?
Are you threatened? Do they mention destroying your credit? Do you send law enforcement to your door? If so, it’s a bogus debt collection agency.
Phishing scams and clickbait messages are a possibility with these new changes. The important lesson is that a legitimate debt collector must identify who they are and the agency they represent. If they don’t, it’s a red flag. You have the right to ask a debt collector to confirm the debt for you or to refuse any further contact. However, if you choose to opt out, be careful with your mail. You don’t want to be the victim of a default judgment if you don’t show up in court.
What should a consumer do if they receive a debt collection message?
If the debt collector identifies themselves and the agency they represent, the best thing to do is to immediately ask questions to confirm the debt. Request the following information in writing: Where does he come from? What is the amount ? What was it for?
The more specific you are, the better – you may find that you don’t even owe the debt. And, if it’s a brand new collection, you may still have time to contact the original creditor to set up a monthly payment plan that keeps the debt in-house (and not in your debt file). credit).
If a debt is statute-barred (no longer collectible, also known as “zombie” or “ghost” debt), debt management agencies cannot sue or threaten legal action.
What parameters should a trustworthy debt collector follow?
Unlike the parameters set for phone calls, no limitation has been set for the frequency of contact on social networks.
Over the phone, debt collectors are limited to one call per day per debt (seven times in total per week per debt) between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Voicemail messages should only include the name of the agency, a request for a response, and appropriate contact information. . Consumers can set restrictions on a collection agent’s communication channels. For example, a consumer can say “stop calling me” and this will be interpreted as a request to cease telephone communications.
Regarding the request for termination of contact: it is always best to make this request in writing and send it by certified mail or with a signature requirement upon receipt to create a written record. The only answers they are allowed to provide are 1) they have received your notice, or 2) they will stop contacting you directly and instead use the court to take further action.
If a debt collector continues to contact you after you tell them not to, they are violating the FDCPA. You can report them to the state regulator, department of banking, finance, or consumer affairs; or even the Federal Trade Commission.
If you suspect fraudulent behavior, BBB’s Scam Tracker is a tool for consumers to track and/or report scams. If your experience is indeed fraudulent, this tool could play a role in protecting future victims. You can also check an agency’s reputation on BBB.org.
For more tips, visit Trust-bbb.org.