Debt collectors will soon have another way to reach consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a ruling outlining how collectors will soon be able to reach consumers via text messaging and social media. The federal government has cleared the way for collection agencies to send unlimited texts, emails and even instant messages on social media platforms.
Debt collectors will be required to include instructions on how to opt out of these messages within the text of the communication. The CFPB will also limit collectors to calling consumers to seven calls per week per debt.
Consumer advocates have come down hard on this new rule saying that consumers should be asked to consent first before being contacted via these methods. Additionally, the ruling should require that a limit be set with respect to phone communication, especially for consumers who owe money to several different creditors.
According to the CFPB, collection calls are the biggest complaint they receive from consumers. Considering one-third (1/3) of American consumers have at least one debt in collections, it comes as no surprise that this complaint is one that is commonly made.
Collectors have requested this ruling to expand their reach and target more consumers. Most people will ignore a phone call from an unknown phone number, and it is their argument that more people would be reached via email or text messaging.
Traditionally, consumers are protected from debt collector calls that have become threatening or harassing through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). However, it is unclear how the FDCPA will apply to newer methods of communications, such as social media messages or texts. The CFPB ruling did not specifically cap the number of emails, texts or instant messages a consumer can receive, but debt collectors may be held liable if it is deemed to be too much. It is not clear how much “too much” entails, which is another reason for concern.
Text communications also put consumers at risk of fraud. This new means of collection may be difficult for the consumer to decipher whether a communication is fraud or a legitimate attempt to collect on a debt.
If someone receives a collection call or communication to collect on a debt, it is imperative that he or she request verification of the debt. This step will help offset any potential fraud risk. Additionally, the collector must produce information regarding the original creditor, as well as the collector’s licensing information.
This new CFPB ruling will officially take effect once it is published in the Federal Register, which will be in approximately one year or near the end of 2021.
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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.