For most Americans, social media provides an outlet for expressing their thoughts, sharing information with friends and family, and simply providing a brief diversion from the stresses of daily life. However, some Facebook users have found themselves on the receiving end of credit card debt collection attempts while looking at photos of relatives or chatting with friends. Debt collection agencies are turning to various forms of social media to broaden the ways in which they can contact and communicate with debtors in Michigan and elsewhere, and federal regulators are now pushing back.
In 2013, regulators are expected to consider new regulations concerning just how invasive these companies can be in our online activities. The problem is broad in scope, considering the fact that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that as many as one in every 10 Americans has at least one account in collections. While not all debt collectors are using social media to contact consumers, it is possible that the trend will grow, especially if some agencies see results by using these tactics.
Consumers already have protections against unfair and unlawful debt collection practices through the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. There are restrictions in place over when and how consumers can be contacted by phone. However, the act does not specifically address the manner in which collections can be conducted online, leading to the need for further investigation and regulation.
Consumers with high levels of credit card debt may find some measure of relief in new regulatory action. However, such changes will not serve to reduce one's level of debt. For many, growing debt levels and reduced income or savings has led to the need for aggressive and permanent debt relief. Personal bankruptcy is one option that can help individuals and families in Michigan start anew and rebuild savings for the future.
Source: The Buffalo News, "Debt collectors are going after people on social media," Carter Dougherty, Jan. 28, 2013