Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Issues New Rules About Contacting Debtors on Social Media
The lamentations about how hard it is to find a true friend in the age of social media are as old as the humblebrag and the “it’s complicated” relationship status. Businesses joined the social media revolution early, and now almost every person active on social media can count favorite brands among their social media “friends.” In fact, social media is an essential component of many business-to-customer relationships. You post pictures of the meal you ordered from a local restaurant, it sends you more discount offers, and everyone wins. It isn’t exactly friendship, but it is business, and it is reality. Many businesses communicate with current and prospective customers on social media, and isn’t debt collection just another business? Thanks to new guidelines issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the rules have become clearer about what is and is not acceptable when it comes to communicating by social media in an attempt to collect a debt. Before you connect with borrowers on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, contact an Alabama creditors’ rights lawyer.
Private Messages Are Fine, but Don’t Publicly Humiliate Borrowers on Social Media
For the first time in more than 40 years, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has published new guidance about communicating with borrowers in an attempt to collect a debt. The old version of the guidelines, issued in the 1970s, talks extensively about phone calls and states that creditors may make seven phone calls per debt per week to borrowers in an attempt to collect payment. Of course, when those guidelines were published, land line phones and postal mail were the main ways that businesses communicated with individual consumers.
The new document is 132 pages long, and only a small section of it deals with social media communications. Here are the highlights:
- Creditors may send messages to borrowers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, informing them of debts and asking them to pay.
- Before sending a message that explicitly requests payment of a debt, the creditor may initiate contact in a way that verifies the identity of the borrower, such as by sending a friend request.
- None of the communications from creditors to borrowers may be publicly visible. Communicating publicly about a borrower’s unpaid debts, whether online or offline, is considered harassment.
- The borrower has the right to ask you to stop sending social media, just like borrowers have the right to opt out of robocalls. You must state clearly in your messages what the borrower must do in order to stop receiving messages from the creditor.
In other words, you may contact borrowers on social media, but tread carefully. When trying to collect a debt, it is always a good idea to work with a lawyer.
Let Us Help You Today
Social media can be an effective way to collect debts. It is always best to work with a Alabama creditors’ rights lawyer to make sure you are complying with the law. Contact Cloud Willis & Ellis for help with your case.