Hi-Tech Debt Collection Efforts Still Ruthless As Ever

It used to be that debtors have no other choice but do exactly what debt collectors, original creditors and debt collection agencies want because they have no say to the matter. There were no laws that protected them from intimidation, threats of credit card lawsuit, arrest, jail time, wage garnishment and property lien. However, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed by the Congress and it prohibited debt collectors, debt collection agencies and even original creditors from using harassment and intimidation as part of their collection efforts.

However, do note that when the FDCPA was passed in 1977, there were no emails, no mobile phones, voice mails and no internet. If a debt collector wants to collect, they can either call you via landline phone or via snail mail or telegram. Today, we live in the age of the internet. Everything is accessible online. We can maintain an active social life without even leaving the comfort of our homes through sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We can connect with people using our smartphones virtually anywhere and anytime.

Unfortunately, debt collection has caught up with technology as well, using social media sites to collect, intimidate and humiliate debtors into paying debts, regardless whether they owe the debt or not.

Fortunately, the FDCPA do impose strict rules when it comes to communicating with debtors. For instance, debt collectors can’t simply send you collection letters without indicating the name of their agency on the outer envelope. Debt collectors cannot just call you at any given time of the day or night nor can they contact you in your office or talk to your employer about your debts. The FDCPA was created specifically to stop all harassment, misrepresentation and the humiliation of debtors.

The Federal Trade Commission is not at all oblivious of technological advances, holding a public workshop about new technologies and tacking issues ranging from voicemails to social media being used for collection efforts.

With the technological advances of the past two decades, questions arise as to what types of communication are allowable under the FDCPA. Indeed, the Federal Trade Commission recently held a daylong public workshop about new technologies and the federal debt collection law. Three issues that were addressed were the use of voicemail, the use of robo-calls, and the use of social media. No word yet as to whether or not the FDCPA will be amended to enact specific laws against debt collectors using voicemail, robo-calls and social media but the Federal Trade Commission is shooting for a potential policy revisions in the future.

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