Protecting the Rights of Consumers
For Over 25 Years
Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC
In late 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued Regulation F under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, allowing third-party debt collectors to communicate with consumers through social media, email and texts.
These methods of communication are readily abused. Watch out for the following red flags:
1. The message isn't private.
Debt collectors can request to join your friends or followers as long as they tell you they're debt collectors. However, the 2021 regulations require that all communications must be private. Messages cannot be visible to the public or people in your network on the platform. If they are, that is a violation.
2. Required information is missing.
Debt collectors are required to provide a “notice of debt” within 5 days of the first contact including the amount owed, the creditor's name and information about your rights. If this information is missing, assume that the collector is scamming you.
3. Threatening or harassing messages.
We have seen email messages threatening arrest or to freeze bank accounts or affect your social security number. These threats are both empty and indicative of a scammer.
A collector also cannot threaten to sue you if the debt is past the statute of limitations. Attempts to collect old debts are suspect.
4. You are asked to make an unusual payment.
Legitimate debt collectors do not require or ask that you purchase a prepaid card, use a money transfer by Zelle or similar means, or pay in bitcoin. These methods are difficult or impossible to reverse or trace. Such a request indicates a scammer.