For years, debt collectors only contacted consumers by mailing them a letter or calling them on the phone. But with all of the new ways to find and communicate with people, they are no longer limited to harassing you in just these two ways. E-mails, texts and private messages on social media sites are now being used by many debt collection agencies in their attempts to collect debts, leaving consumers wondering if this is even legal.
Debt Collectors Sending E-mails, Texts, and Private Messages on Social Media
Debt collectors are governed by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and similar state laws, in some states. The FDCPA does not prohibit collectors from contacting consumers via e-email, text, or private message. However, when communicating with consumers in any of these ways, debt collectors must still follow the law in the same way that they do when sending you mail or calling your phone. This means that they cannot:
- Send you a text, e-mail or private message before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Use obscene, profane or abusive language in the communication
- Threaten you with any action they cannot legally take or do not intend to take
- Falsely imply that they are an attorney, a member of law enforcement, or affiliated with any state or federal government agency
- Cause you to incur communication charges by concealing the true purpose of the communication
- Falsely imply that you may be arrested and jailed if you do not pay the bill
- Fail to disclose that the communication is from a debt collector and is an attempt to collect a debt
- Send you documents falsely made to look like court or other government documents
- Misrepresent the character, amount, or legal status of the debt
This is not a complete list of practices prohibited by the FDCPA, and any tactic used by a debt collector that is abusive, deceptive, or unfair may violate the Act, giving you a cause of action against the debt collector. If found to have violated the FDCPA, a debt collector may be ordered to not only stop contacting you, but to pay you money, including your court costs and attorney fees.
If you are being harassed or abused by a creditor or debt collector please contact our office at 1-800-219-3577, for a free, no obligation consultation.