Deborah M. Todd with the Associated Press reports that debt collectors are increasingly turning to social media to track down debtors, but some of these collectors don’t seem to think that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the federal law outlawing abusive and deceitful behavior on the part of debt collectors), applies to the social media world.
If a debt collector becomes someone’s Facebook friend under false pretenses, as Todd writes, in order to get at the debtor, that’s a violation of the law. Todd quotes Christopher Koegel of the Federal Trade Commission: “We have been emphasizing over the last five years that those rules apply to text messaging and social media. The mode of communication doesn’t matter.”
The mode of communication might not matter, but tell that to the debt collectors. Perhaps for a sense of balance in her piece, Todd also gets input from the representative of the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, who says those two infamous words: Gray area.
“Interpreting it [the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act] is difficult and usually depends on which lawyer in which state is making the argument. It’s a large part of what ails debt collection efforts.”
Whoa, now. We wouldn’t want debt collection efforts to be ailed, would we? Especially not in the name of fairness. At any rate, it can help if consumers know their rights when it comes to debt collection law.