Debt collectors can now contact you via text and social media

Experts say be careful of scams
Debt collectors can use social media to seek payments.png
Posted at 4:34 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 20:42:18-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- The next friend request you get on Facebook may be from a debt collector. The world of debt collection is finally entering the 21st century as debt collectors can now use social media to seek payments.

"We live in an era of social media, and that's just the way people connect these days," University of San Diego Business Law professor Craig Barkacs said.

Tuesday, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau updated the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It now states that debt collectors can text, email, or even direct message people on social media to seek payment.

"I think the system is designed to be more efficient that way," Barkacs said.

Some key rules include:

  • Debt collectors must identify themselves as debt collectors. But they can attempt to join your personal network by sending a friend request. 
  • Collectors must give you an option to opt out of electronic notifications.
  • Messages must be sent privately, meaning not written as public posts. 
  • Collectors can send at most seven notifications per week.

"I think they're always looking for ways to make it more convenient for consumers," Barkacs said.

But with convenience comes opportunities for illegal scams. So double checking the old-fashioned way is critical.

"I don't think people should react reflexively and automatically assume that it's legitimate and pay the debt," Barkacs said. "People do need to entertain a bit of due diligence. Maybe contact the debt collection agency directly, make sure this is legit, and take care of it after those safeguards are followed."

Experts said while this may be convenient for many, less tech-savvy folks may fall prey to scammers.

"They're more trusting, and they aren't as on guard as younger generations are to the scams that do take place, so I think we should worry about older populations being targeted."

If you suspect fraud or scams, experts advise you to report them immediately to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.