Currently, consumers in Florida and the rest of the United States are protected under certain laws from creditor harassment. However, the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals announced Monday that they hope to change laws that would make it easier for debt collectors to contact consumers regarding unpaid debts and late payments. Many who oppose the proposed changes argue that the move would only aid creditor harassment.
“The law’s real simple and should remain the same: do not harass people and/or their family or friends,” commented the head of the consumer protection department of a law firm.
Laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act protect consumers from having to deal with harassing phone calls or letters about unpaid debts. Because the laws were written prior to today’s wide use of cell phones and social media, the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals hope to change laws in order to legally contact consumers through email, text messages and Facebook.
However, some creditors have already been pushing their boundaries. Some have gone as far as to pretending to friend a debtor on Facebook and posting messages about unpaid debts on an individual’s wall. Other collectors have even contacted family members or friends of individuals who were delinquent on bills or payments.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumer complaints regarding creditor harassment rose to more than 108,000 in 2010. Over 20 percent of the complaints filed mentioned debt collectors using a third party to obtain their contact information or contact information for friends and family.
Although an individual may be delinquent on a payment, where should the line be drawn for methods in which a debt collector can contact a debtor?
ABC News: “Debt Collectors Seek New Media Tactics: email, Cell Phone and Text Messages,” Lyneka Little, 13 June 2011