If a consumer in Townsend, Maryland, gets behind on a debt, the original creditor could sell it to a third-party collection agency. This often means getting swamped with calls from creditors, but the Fair Debt Consumer Protection Act previously restricted the communication mode to the telephone. Now, the FDCPA has updated the rules so that collectors may contact consumers in new ways.
Updates to the FDCPA
In 1977, the FDCPA did not include provisions for newer communication methods. The new update, however, considers new modes of communication such as texts, emails, social media and cellphones.
If an agency contacts a consumer through social media, they must offer opt-outs. While they don’t need permission to contact consumers on social media, they cannot post public messages regarding debt. If the collector sends a friend request, they must identify as a debt collector.
Phone calls also have a new restriction of one call per day under the update to the law, and collectors cannot call one week after speaking to a debtor. Current laws only restrict the times they can contact debtors, which is between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
When a debt collector breaks rules
Consumers can send written communication asking the collector to stop contacting them. Collectors have to follow the same time restrictions for social media as they do by telephone. They also have to send validation that the consumer owes the debt within 30 days.
If a debtor thinks they don’t owe the debt, they should ask for more verification. If a a debt collector acts outside of the restrictions of the FDCPA, they can get debt collection harassment help for consumers. A consumer may file a formal complaint with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. However, it’s important to note that the FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collectors and not original creditors, such as banks.
While debt collectors can’t do anything they want, they still have some leeway. They are still allowed to contact consumers over each debt, but they might overstep the bounds of the law. Sometimes, it requires legal action to make a collector stop contacting a debtor.