around a third of Americans with a credit file have some form of debt in their accounts, which normally means they will get phone calls about their unpaid balance.
However, the latest guidelines issued on Friday specifically allow debt collectors to use a broad variety of contact methods to interact with customers, including text and social media messaging.
On Friday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a final regulation that effectively updates the guidelines laid down in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which forbids the use of bullying, coercive or unjust practices by debt collectors. The legislation passed in 1977 is silent on the use of electronic media by collection authorities since they actually did not exist at the time. Friday’s law updates that, by ruling, collection agencies can communicate with customers through all modes of electronic communications.
Among some of the changes made to the current regulations, the CFPB specifically notes that debt collectors can send text messages, emails and direct messages to customers on social media sites. The law does not prescribe a cap for such communications, but the CFPB states that it does not authorize “excessive” communications to threaten, suppress or assault users and thus to breach both the FDCPA and the new regulations. When it comes to phone calls, collecting companies will reach customers up to seven days a week for any debt they may have outstanding.
The CFPB’s latest 653-page rule does, however, state that if a customer requests a debt collector to “stop calling,” they are not allowed to call. In addition, the law mandates that debt collectors who use electronic contact—such as texting, emailing or direct messaging on social media—have to provide a convenient means for customers to opt out.