There were record job losses and an economic decline this year. Millions of Americans now have debt in collections. Beginning in 2021, debt collectors will have more ways to contact consumers. However, it’s important to note that consumers still have rights against some collection tactics before filing for bankruptcy.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau changed its rules beginning in 2021. Debt collectors are now permitted to contact consumers through their social media accounts for unpaid medical, credit card and other debt.
Debt collectors, however, must still follow rules if they use social media as a communication method. Collectors may not mislead consumers into connecting with them by posing as a friend or social contact. Debt collectors who make contact through social media must clearly state that they are seeking to collect an outstanding debt.
Debt collectors are prohibited from discussing consumers’ debt in public forums. For example, they may not post a message on a debtor’s Facebook wall reminding them to pay their debt or face severe consequences. Collectors, however, may send private messages through Facebook requesting payment.
Collectors still must comply with many other rules. They cannot call consumers before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm. Collectors may not use threatening language or profanity with debtors, threaten to arrest debtors, physically harm them, or lie about the amount of the owed debt.
Collectors must also comply with written requests to stop contact with debtors except to inform them of a lawsuit. They cannot discuss personal finances with member of the debtor’s family besides their spouse.
If a debtor is represented by an attorney, the collector must route all communications with the debtor through that attorney. A lawyer may also provide options on dealing with insurmountable debt such as a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Although the rules governing debt collectors’ behavior is ever-changing, they still must comply with rules. If you are dealing with the prospect of overwhelming collectors, you have options for requesting that they give you breathing space while you decide how to move forward.