Posted On: October 1, 2021
Debt collectors have had a bad rap over the years, and it’s no wonder. It’s hard enough knowing that you owe money, but being under the spotlight from debt-collection agencies makes it so much worse.
Systems have evolved, however, and there has been a push for modernizing debt collection during the digital age. These shifts come with a few more options for making contact with you, and hopefully, make the whole process a little easier on us all.
What does this mean for you as a consumer, though, and how does this change things?
Let’s take a look at some things you need to know about debt collection.
Debt collection has been around since the 1970s, and so much has changed since then. But it has taken a while to modernize debt collection during the digital age due to debt collectors being unsure of the rules.
With the COVID19 pandemic, rules and regulations around debt collection have had to come under the microscope, and a modern way of communicating has the go-ahead. The basic rules of debt collection still stand:
These rules are set in stone and are not changing any time soon. What is changing is the way debt collectors can communicate with you while bearing all these rules in mind.
Traditionally, debt collectors followed a basic system of making phone calls and sending letters. But as communications have modernized over the years, new avenues have opened up to make contact with consumers. While phone calls are still a top choice, debt collection emails and text messages are also an option. Debt collectors are also now allowed to contact you via social media messaging platforms.
It turns out that many consumers prefer to manage their accounts online through emails, text messages, and social media. Until recently, debt collectors did not use these platforms, as their use was unclear, and many consumers complained about harassment through these communications. Without having any set rules in place, it can be difficult to tell who was in the right or the wrong. A recent update to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has cleared up some confusion with a few simple changes.
The new rules allow for one phone call a day for seven days. If you speak to a person, but you cannot call again for another seven days. Additionally, consumers can ask you to stop calling, and you must comply. The calling cap applies to each debt, so those with many debts can expect more phone calls.
Debt collectors are now allowed to leave limited content messages if you do not answer the phone. Before third-party disclosure laws, voicemails were a minefield. But with the limited content message guidelines, this is now allowed as long as the following happens.
Emails and text messages are allowed but must only happen between 8 am and 9 pm as per the rules of the Act. Emails sent to a work address are generally not allowed.
Consumers must have the option to verify their continued consent for this form of communication. All electronic communications must include clear instructions to opt-out should the consumer wish to do so. If the consumer chooses to opt-out of a particular channel of communication, you must honor this.
Private messages on social media are now allowed as part of the modernizing of debt collection during the digital age. Posting messages to your social media pages, or anything that your followers, friends, or the public can see, is not allowed.
The updates to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are long overdue. This is the first time since 1977 that any changes have been made. Things are vastly different since then! These updates now offer the consumer some control over how and when they are contacted and which channels are used.
Clarification of rules is always a good thing and from both sides. If debt collection agencies know more clearly what they can and can’t do, they also avoid issues of harassment.
As a consumer, you do not want to be harassed by third-party debt collectors, which is why all messages contain the opt-out instructions. While these must be acted on immediately by the collectors, by opting out of all communication with a debt collector, you can run into other kinds of snags.
If you opt-out of messages, you risk not being kept up to date if your debt status changes. For example, if a company chooses to sue you for unpaid debt. Most people do not want to avoid their debt entirely; they just want to control when and where they are contacted. Just be careful of opting out too often, or you may end up missing important information.
If you feel that you are being harassed by a business or third-party debt collector, you can report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and they will address any issues of wrongdoing on the part of the collectors.
The changes made towards modernizing debt collection during the digital age go a long way to helping both collectors and consumers. By clarifying the dos and don’ts, harassment and irritation can be avoided on both sides.
If you are looking for help with debt collection, contact us today for friendly and professional advice.