Debt Collectors Can Demand Payment on Facebook Once You ‘Friend’ or ‘Follow’ Them

According to an article in PaymentsJournal and the Register debt collectors now have the authority to make their payment demands public on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms

debt collector

According to The Register – Debt collectors will be allowed to chase people over their social media accounts under new rules approved by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

That means that your new Facebook friend request could come from an agency hounding you over that unpaid medical bill, next Twitter direct message chasing car payments, next Instagram interaction more financial than social. 

November 27, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (currently under the control of the Trump administration) recently ruled that debt collections agencies can now use social media outlet like Facebook and Twitter to try to recover outstanding debt. Further, email and text dunning notices are also fair game. The CPFB says it is simply modernizing the debt collection process to allow it to use more modern means of connecting to those who owe money.

The rules were released at the end of October but had gone largely unnoticed outside the industry because there was no mention of “social media” in the CFPB’s announcement and you had to dig inside its 132-page report [PDF] to discover the crucial changes.

Don’t assume that the person sending the friend request is going to say they are with a debt collector, they have a financial incentive to mislead you into thinking their request is innocent.

Also, email and text messages are now also an official part of a debt collector’s arsenal, raising both privacy and harassment concerns. The rules also state that an agency can contact consumers by phone up to seven times a week about each debt owed.

Statute of Limitations

Every state has a set of laws called the ‘statutes of limitations‘.  That means that once a certain time period passes the right to sue is gone.  For intance, in Arizona the right to collect on a contract is usually six years.  What debt collectors don’t share is that by paying just one penny the borrower has restarted the statute of limitations.  The debt collectors promise to give the borrowers additional time “if only they pay a small amount, say $25”.  Once that payment is made the statute of limitations starts all over.  DON’T FALL FOR THIS.

The debt may not even be yours

There have been numerous horror stories of people being publicly harassed and embarrassed over debts they didn’t even owe, due to bad record keeping by debt agencies.

As an article in Slash Gear reports:

Many people and consumer protection agencies are against the new regulations. Consumer Reports created a petition this week, aiming to stop abusive debt collection. The petition warns that the collectors could harass people even if they don’t owe money.

MUSINGS BY DIANE:

debt collectorOur private lives are more public today than ever before.  Social media gives anyone a look into our personal lives, whether their intentions are good or evil.  Personally, I know that everyone wants to pay their bills, but circumstances now make that impossible.  A financially healthy family can be devastated by medical expenses, unemployment, divorce, or now COVID. 

For more than three decades I have helped people deal with their financial challenges, and have never met a client who says “I WANT to file bankruptcy”.  Instead, the discussion starts with “I don’t know what to do.  If I feed my family then I cannot afford to pay my credit cards.  Even though I explained the situation to the debt collectors, they just garnished my wages and took all the money in my bank account.  Now I can’t pay the rent. I must stop this bleeding before my family is homeless.”  

– Diane L. Drain
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