The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has introduced rules that allow debt collectors to email, text and direct message people on social media to seek payments for unpaid debts.
Debt collectors can now contact Americans on social media but they must identify themselves, keep messages private and offer a way for people to opt out of receiving further communications on the platform.
Similarly, collections agencies can email and text debtors, with the same opt out option. Unlike with phone calls, there are no limits to the number of messages that can be sent.
In a blog, former CFPB director Kathleen Kraninger says that debt collectors and consumers have been “trapped in a time warp” thanks to a rule from the year when “bell-bottoms were popular fashion, Elvis passed away, [and] the very first Star Wars movie was released”.
However, April Kuehnhoff from the National Consumer Law Center told NPR that there are a host of problems with the changes, including that people could miss vital messages and that crooks could use the rules to trick people.
“I have actually already gotten my first spam debt collection email even before the new rules took effect. So certainly we should anticipate more bad actors who are trying to scam people into paying them money on alleged debts,” she told NPR.