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Debt collectors using social media; here are tips to avoid a scam

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 7:55 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - If you owe money, debt collectors can now reach you at your fingertips.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau updated standards to now allow debt collectors to reach people through social media, text, or email. The policy change does come with strict regulation, though.

The change is all about giving debt collectors new ways to reach people.

”Everybody’s going to social media, right? And they’re finding that they want to be relevant, just like everybody else,” said Holly Wilson, Director of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Springfield.

The rules online debt collectors have to follow start with how they can reach you.

”It has to be completely private,” Wilson said. “So none of your friends, none of your followers, nobody that could see it publicly.”

Debt collectors must also clearly identify themselves, list the amount owed, and the name of the original creditor if it’s different from the current one. Collectors must offer you an option to opt out of messaging as well.

”If they’re missing those pieces of information, then that would be a red flag and just opt out,” Wilson warned.

Despite the regulation, there is always the fear of a scam.

“Scammers will actually take out fake social media ads and will also go ahead and message people,” said Stephanie Garland, Regional Director of the Springfield Better Business Bureau. “A lot of times they’ll pretend that they have a government grant that they’re offering and they’ll pose as family or friends. So people do need to be aware that with the law changes, are they really speaking to a real debt collector or is it a scam?”

This is why Garland says you may want to do some double checking if you have any doubts.

”When you’re hearing from somebody who you think is a debt collector, but you’re not exactly sure, you need to go ahead and stop the communication,” Garland said. “And you can actually go to bbb.org and verify from there if the person is legitimate.”

Holly Wilson said she recommends avoiding social media to communicate with collectors, but urges caution if you decide to do so.

”Be very careful that this is something that you truly want to take care of through social media,” she said. “There’s other ways to have that conversation.”

The rule also specifies a collector must speak to the borrower in person, by telephone, or wait 14 days after sending the correspondence before reporting a defaulted debt to a credit agency,

Financial experts also say to keep in mind blocking those messages or not responding could hurt your credit. Be sure to at least verify before pushing it off as a scam. You can report any issues to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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