Getting hassled about an outstanding collection account over social media is the last thing any consumer wants to deal with. Still, many collection agents argue that it is the most productive means of communication in 2022.
Because of that, changes have been made to update the rules and regulations that govern those collection efforts and how they impact consumers. Those updated rules went into effect in the fall of 2021, so collectors operating in 2022 must understand them inside and out.
Reviewing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Before getting into the new regulations explicitly targeting social media usage, it’s essential to review the specifics of the existing Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that have been in place for decades.
Those existing rules specify that commercial debt collectors must clearly identify themselves over any form of communication. They are also strictly forbidden from misrepresenting themselves as any type of law enforcement officer.
The FDCPA also stipulates that debt collection agents are not permitted to verbally abuse or threaten any consumers they are attempting to collect from, and there are specific limits set on how frequently collection agents can contact those consumers.
Consumers also have the option to opt out of any form of communication with a debt collection agency. Any consumer that requests to opt out of any form of communication in writing must be granted that request.
Understanding the New Social Media Collection Rules
The new social media collection rules build on the existing FDCPA legislation. They require that all collection-related communications that happen over social media must be strictly private through direct messages, never publicly.
The new legislation does not set an exact number for how many messages are permitted, but it does state that “excessive” communication is forbidden. Many debt collection experts assume that the once/seven-day stretch limit that applies to phone calls is a reasonable expectation here.
Consumers also have the right to opt out of social media communication about a debt, just as they would with any other form of communication.
Opening the Door for Mistakes
One of the primary concerns about contacting consumers through social media is that it could be opening Pandora’s box of potential mistakes.
Debt collection agents working with incorrect or incomplete information conducting their collections in a hurry are much more likely to mistake identities or contact relatives by mistakes, which is also strictly forbidden by the FDCPA.
Anything involving social media always makes scams and fraud more likely, so there is concern that consumers could be tricked into paying debts they never owed in the first place.
These new laws will definitely make debt collection through social media tougher on the agents that are abusing the practice, but it should not have much impact at all on anyone who is conducting collections the right way.
With that in mind, if you are looking for a reputable commercial debt collection agency to play by the rules and still get results on your behalf, contact Direct Recovery today. Let’s start the process and talk about how we can work together to collect according to the letter of the law.