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New federal rules that took effect in late November let debt collectors text and email you as well as send you direct messages on social media.
Debt collectors will be allowed to send you messages on apps like Facebook and Instagram, but they can’t post publicly on your pages, according to Business Insider.
They can also try to join your network by sending you a friend request, according to NPR.
Collectors are required to identify themselves as debt collectors and they must give you the option to opt out of being contacted online, NPR said. Collectors must give the option to opt out if they text or email you too.
Industry officials praised the move as a welcome change to the outdated methods currently used by the collections industry, NPR said.
Consumer advocates argued the new rules expose people to increased harassment from unscrupulous lenders, according to CNBC.
“Contacting borrowers on social media is very invasive, beyond just catching up with the technology that we have now,” said Andrea Bopp Stark, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, according to CNBC. “I think it could encourage misconduct by allowing debt collectors to seek out people’s private social media accounts.”
Federal officials said the updated rules were needed. Debt collectors were previously working with standards that have not been changes since 1977, CNBC said.
The new rules better reflect modern technologies, officials said.
In addition to identification and opt out requirements for online contact, the rules make some clarifications when it comes to phone calls as well, according CNBC. The new rule clarifies that phone calls that go straight to voicemail are counted as one of the seven calls collectors are allowed within seven days.
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