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The traditional image of a collection agent has them hounding you over the phone. Calling at home. Calling at work.
What you may not know is they can text you and email you, too.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act first passed in 1977. Back then, people hadn’t even imagined cell phones. Or email.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing.
It’s a bad thing, because nothing in the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using these forms of communication.
It’s a good thing, because some debt collectors have been reluctant to try them. Doing so could pose a legal risk.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is trying to clarify the rules.
Recent news stories say the CFPB is trying to clarify the FDCPA for modern times. The proposed rule is more advantageous to creditors than to borrowers.
Under the proposed rule, creditors would have the ability to send unlimited emails and texts. Even if you have limited minutes. Even if you have to pay for every text. They don’t require you to opt in.
The new rules would also allow creditors to call 7 days a week. If the new rule passes, collection agencies could ramp up their harrassment tactics. The CFPB claims creditors could not send so many messages as to be abusive.
You’ll want to be three times as careful when dealing with agents via phone or text.
Getting a text that says you owe money doesn’t prove you owe money.
You could hit the “link to pay” only to find you’re paying some other person’s debt. Or paying a debt you already paid. Or are paying a debt that’s past the statute of limitations.
Paying collection accounts rarely does consumers much good anyway. So we’d advise you to be wary.
See also: Is it a Good Idea to “Settle” Your Debt?
You still have rights which can protect you.
Don’t want 21+ text messages from a collection agent? Hitting “delete” isn’t the only power you have.
The new rules won’t change the FDCPA. You can still send a certified letter which tells collection agents they may only contact you via the mail. Good old fashioned US Post.
This won’t stop you from getting sued. But it will keep the agents from tying up your phone minutes.
Bankruptcy’s automatic stay also offers protection, as it will bring all collection activities to a screeching halt. It will also allow you to get out from under all these old accounts. And if you have a lot of accounts in collections, it’s a good move most of the time.
Got questions? Want to explore the possibility of declaring bankruptcy? Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.