State AGs Asking Federal Regulator to Prohibit Debt Collectors from Using Social Media
State Attorneys General (AGs) from 28 states sent a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) asking the federal regulator to prohibit debt collectors from using social media to contact consumers about an outstanding debt.
Announced earlier this year, the CFPB’s proposed new rules on debt collection, primarily for third-party debt collectors. If finalized, it would amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which hasn’t been modified since 1977.
The proposed rule would introduce new restrictions on communications between debt collectors and consumers. Collectors would only be able to make seven attempts per week to reach consumers by telephone. If the collector and consumer communicate by telephone, the debt collector would not be able to contact the consumer again for seven days.
The proposal also provides new rules over electronic communications, including the use of social media. Although debt collectors would not be able to contact consumers on front-facing pages, they could send private communications to consumers.
The letter expresses concern over misidentification since social media users often use various usernames when setting up social media accounts. In addition, there are concerns that social media companies will mine data from the private messages between the consumer and debt collector.
The CFPB is expected to issue a final rule over debt collection sometime in 2020.