Nov 27 2013
In the wake of stiffer regulations, some collectors and banks have turned to the social media as a way to locate debtors and to drum up new business. However, federal experts are considering limiting the practice.
Rules mean nothing with social media
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, established more than 30 years ago, protects consumers from many abusive collection methods. However, those laws were established long before there was such a thing as the Internet or social networking. Therefore, the rules have been spongy on the matter.
The rules are fuzzy, but it is recommended that businesses that are part of the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals do not use social networking for collection, according to Mark Schiffman of the trade association.
Not everybody claims no to social media
Not every debt collector listens to the advice.
Attorney Billy Howard spoke with writer Carl Dougherty about the practices of some collectors for a piece in Bloomberg.
“You get a friend request from some chick in a bikini,” Howard said. “You say yes, and then somebody says ‘by the way, I’m a debt collector.'”
Some say the practice at times borders on stalking or harassment.
Federal experts looking at the problem
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are looking into regulating how, or even if, debt collectors should be legally allowed to pursue debtors on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn.
These agencies have already spent a lot of time making rules to guard consumers from aggressive legal methods, so it is not easier for customers to register complaints. Brand new changes have to be made evidently.
Financial institutions, banking institutions also under microscope
The Federal Banking institutions Examination Council wants to put more limits on how banking institutions can use social media, and it wants public opinion on the issue. You can learn more by going to:
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states there are about 30 million American customers being pursued by collection firms today. The Accounts Receivable Management industry earns about $12 billion in revenue each year.
Views from all
Consumers who feel they are being harassed by debt collectors should report the activity on line or by telephone to the CFPB or the Federal Trade Commission.
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