Debt collectors have always been creative. They use phone, email, mail, text messages, at home visits, and many other techniques to get in contact with a person in debt. According to the Federal Trade Commission, all of those methods are legal except postcards with details anyone could see. However, if creditors utilize these methods, they are not allowed to be deceptive or threatening. The latest method? Social media and, per FTC guidelines, this is also legal.
Current Debtor Protections
The current Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a center- piece of legislation regarding debt collection practices. Some highlights:
- Collectors cannot contact you before 8:00am or after 9:00pm.
- If a debtor tells a collector not to call them at work, the collector cannot do so.
- Collectors cannot be deceptive.
- Collectors cannot be threatening or vulgar.
- Collectors cannot say they are going to sue you unless they actually intend to do so.
- Creditors cannot impose charges unless the charges were agreed upon in the initial agreement. They are not allowed to create new charges.
What Collectors CAN Do
Debt collectors have rights as well. They are legally allowed to:
- Send correspondence through mail, email, phone (work and home), and text messages.
- Set up payment plans with debtors.
- Sue debtors if the debt is not resolved.
Where Does Social Media Fit In?
Under the current FDCPA, creditors are allowed to use social media to contact you and collect information about you. They still cannot use any of the afore mentioned prohibited actions. Some newer tactics are being used by collectors and it is getting the attention of the FTC.
In the last few years, there have been reports of debt collectors creating fake profiles and contacting friends of debtors to collect information. Technically, they are not deceiving the debtor directly so these collectors are getting away with it. Collectors have also been posting messages on debtor’s social media pages for all to see. Using vague language so as not to release prohibited information, they shame debtors into paying.
So, What Can You Do to Prevent Social Media Harassment from Creditors?
The best piece of advice the FTC can give is to make your social media profiles private. If your pages are private, collectors cannot see who your friends are, post on your wall, or get to you in an any other way using social media. This is not say that you should dodge your debts.
If you are being harassed by credit card companies or other creditors, you can make it stop. One phone call from a lawyer can halt the multiple phone calls per day, emails, text messages, etc. You can get your life back. Elias Dsouza has been defending people from the harassment of creditors for over 15 years. He also offers credit counseling. He has the skills and experience to get you back on track. Contact Elias today for a free consultation.