Your next friend request might be from a debt collector

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Gives a whole new meaning to the ‘poke’

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Debt collectors: they’re dead set on keeping tabs on you, even when you’d rather not deal with them. In fact, they want to be your friends. And now they legally can be.

New rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau came into effect on Tuesday laying out how collectors may behave when contacting you via text message, email, or, yes, even on social media. There are some consumer protections against harassment like a limit of seven calls in a 7-day period or within 7 days and a prohibition on lawsuits or threats of them against a debtor they’re communicating with. While the rules put a limit on the number of calls a collector can make, they don’t apply to “limited-information messages” which identify the collector and only invite the consumer to call back about a debt at some point.

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Collectors are also permitted to contact debtors through social media (i.e., submit a request to become a friend) as long as they identify as a collector and communicate privately as to avoid widely-seen feeds and pages. That said, if they initially can’t reach the debtor, collectors are also allowed to privately contact their social connections to help in their search.

Consumers can simply tell the collector to opt them out of SMS and digital communications, but advocates fear scammers will be able to take at least some people unawares and would have rather seen an opt-in process.

NPR reports the rules were drafted during the pro-business Trump administration under the CFPB’s then-director Kathleen L. Kraninger. She resigned at the request of President Biden in January.

There’s already plenty of noise to tune out from spoofed calls regarding your car’s extended warranty to the peddling of sex pills landing in your spam folder. It may only be inevitable that you or someone you know may become friends with their sharks.


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