When Facebook or Instagram “Friends” May Actually Be Debt Collectors
Jan. 28, 2022
Accepting a friend request on social media from someone you don’t know personally? Think again. That innocent-looking friend request may be from a debt collector. This is a new way that debt collectors have found to contact and sometimes harass people who are struggling to pay their debts.
Debt Collectors Are Not Your Friends!
Creditors can seek payment for your debts themselves or by using third-party debt collectors, who may not have the same company name as the company you owe the debt to. That can cause confusion for you, as the debtor. However, not everyone calling about a debt is legitimate. By law, at the beginning of any communication with you, debt collectors must identify themselves as a debt collector and must provide you with detailed information about what you owe, such as when the debt was incurred and what it was for. They must also inform you about your rights in debt collection.
Keep in mind that third-party debt collectors are usually paid only if they collect the debt, and their pay is often based on the amount they collect. That’s why debt collectors sometimes use deceptive or abusive tactics to collect debt. They sometimes threaten debtors about debts that they may not owe or ask for more money than is owed.
Debt Collectors Can Contact You Through Social Media
New rules issued at the end of 2021 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) make it easier for debt collectors to contact you through social media as well as by text or email. While this brings debt collection agencies in line with other financial institutions, it also makes it easier for unsuspecting debtors to be scammed into paying something they don’t owe or into paying more than they actually owe.
Know Your Rights when It Comes to Debt Collection Through Social Media
The new rules set specific guidelines and rights for online communication with debt collectors, in addition to existing rights.
Debt collectors who contact you on social media must tell you they are debt collectors. They can send you a friend request, though, so don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
You have a right to opt out of being contacted through social media.
In every contact, debt collectors must give you an easy way to stop receiving further communications from them on that social media platform.
Any message debt collectors send you must be private. They are not allowed to post on your social media account if it can be seen by your friends, followers, contacts, or the general public.
Additional Federal and State Laws that Protect You from Abusive Debt Collectors
Both the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collection Protection Act (FCCPA) protect debtors from abuses such as:
Calling you more than seven times in seven days
Calling you at work
Calling you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
Swearing at you or threatening you with legal action
Making verbal or physical threats
Telling other people or threatening to tell other people about your debt
Threatening to garnish your wages
Pretending to be an attorney or law enforcement official
Contacting you directly if you have informed them that you are working with an attorney (all communications from the debt collector should go to your attorney, not you)
Refusing to stop calling you after you have asked them to stop
Trying to collect on debts that have already been settled or discharged in bankruptcy
Continuing to call after you have begun a schedule for repayment
Will the New Law Stop Unscrupulous Debt Collectors?
Probably not, but you have recourse to legal remedies. In Florida, if a debt collector violates the FCCPA rules, you can file a lawsuit against the debt collector or the original creditor. Contact BransonLaw if you have been the victim of an abusive debt collector.
You’ve Been Contacted by A Debt Collector. Now What?
Call our office to discuss your legal rights. Our team at BransonLaw can help you to determine whether the debt you’ve been contacted about is a valid debt. Debt collectors are legally required to confirm in writing the amount of the debt, the name of the current creditor and the name of the original creditor (debt is often bought and sold, so the current creditor may be different than the original creditor).
If the debt is a consumer debt, and not debt related to a business or commercial debt, you have legal rights. Remember, FDCPA and FCCPA laws are only applicable to consumer debt, such credit card debts, medical debt, car loans, student loans, household expenses, and other personal debts.
If you don’t recognize the debt, we can assist you with disputing it. We will demand detailed information about why the debt is valid. Do not respond to threats. Debt collectors cannot legally take away your license, call your employer, or arrest you. Our team is experienced in dealing with debt collectors. Don’t put up with abusive debt collectors on your own.
Branson Law Can Help You
Contact our office to set up a consultation today. We can discuss your rights under FDCPA and FCCPA laws. We can also explore whether filing bankruptcy might be a better option for you. If your total debt is more than you can afford to pay back over a reasonable amount of time, filing bankruptcy might be the best course of action. Filing bankruptcy stops all debt collection activity including attempts to collect a debt through social media, phone calls, written communication, and legal actions that could potentially result in garnishment of your wages or assets. Call today to discuss your options. We are here to help.