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Feds Seek To Limit Debt Collector Use Of Social Media

Federal financial regulators are looking into ways to limit how debt collectors and financial institutions can use social media in tracking down delinquent debtors or attracting customers.

Ways to avoid rules

The Fair Debt Collections Methods Act, established more than 30 years back, protects customers 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 laws have been spongy on the matter.

The rules are fuzzy, but it is recommended that companies 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.

Some collectors use social media

The advice is certainly not required, so many do not listen.

The practices were discussed by lawyer Billy Howard 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.

Issue on a federal standard

It may not be allowed for collectors to use Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn to contact consumers soon as the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are looking into stopping abusive methods.

Customers will be able to very easily complain about any troubles with rules on debt collection businesses already, but evidently that will need to be expanded.

Banks, financial institutions also under microscope

There are also ways the public can weigh in on how financial instructions use social media. This is something the Federal Financial institutions Examination Council is looking at and wants public opinion. Go to:

Their website

About $12 billion in revenue is received by the Accounts Receivable Management industry each year while 30 million American consumers are pursued by firms right now, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Don’t be afraid to speak up

Get a hold of the CFPB for Federal Trade Commission if you feel you have been harassed by debt collectors.

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