New Laws on How Creditors Can Contact You Online
Our firm hears all the time from clients dealing with creditor harassment. For decades, that usually meant unending phone calls to them and their community. But modern technology has changed everything. Fortunately, some new regulations have made it clearer how creditors can contact you on social media (and how they can’t).
Remember, no matter how they’re reaching out, all creditors always have to say:
- The creditor’s name
- The amount you owe
- That you can dispute the debt
- That you can request the name and address of the original creditor, if the one contacting you is different
If they don’t do this, or they violate any of the rules below, submit a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can reach them online or by calling 855-411-2372. You can also report them to the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 877-382-4357.
And you should report them to your state’s attorney general, who typically have a section on their website for consumer protection with instructions for reporting.
Can Creditors Contact Me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?
In 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau decided how creditors can behave on social media. They determined creditors can reach out to you there.
That might sound terrifying, since a lot of us are connected to all our friends and family online. But the rules also give them some parameters:
- Creditors have to identify themselves.
- They can only use private messaging.
- They have to offer an opt-out option of some kind for future messaging.
Opting out is hard to offer on private messages. They may say to write back a certain word, like “NO.” Or they might not offer it at all. While this would be a violation of the rules, you can always block them on social media once they’ve messaged you.
Keep a record of the messages. That way, if they contact you without an opt-out statement, you can report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The same goes for any messages to family or friends or any public social media contact. Those are all a violation. Keep a record and report it immediately.
Remember, people can use private messages to scam you. Do not clink on links, even if they look like they’re from legitimate creditors. If you need to pay a debt or visit their website for any reason, go directly to their website yourself from your browser.
Can Creditors Text Me?
Creditors have to follow generally the same rules as above for texting. The opt-out message in a text message typically will say something like “reply STOP to opt out of future messages” or similar.
One thing to bear in mind: creditors can text you for each outstanding debt. So you may reply STOP to one text message and still receive more. If you have three different debts, you can legally receive three different texts about them, and you’ll have to opt-out of each of them individually.
Can Creditors Email Me?
Creditors can absolutely email you, but again they have to follow the same parameters as above. This means they have to offer an unsubscribe button or the equivalent.
Many people keep separate work emails, and you may be wondering if creditors can contact you through your work email. In general, the answer is no.
Creditors can’t contact your work email if they know it to be your separate work email. However, if you’ve contacted them using that email before, or if you gave consent to use that email and haven’t opted out since, they may use it.
Always opt-out if you don’t want to receive the email, and report any violations after that.
The Best Way to Stop Online Creditor Harassment
As you can see, creditors can contact you on social media, but with rules. Unfortunately, a lot of creditors break those rules.
It’s critical we report creditor harassment and violations when they happen. It may save you a lot of misery down the road. And reporting helps protect other people in the future.
That said, reporting doesn’t stop creditors from contacting you altogether. And it doesn’t deal with the root of the problem: your debt.
When you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you get the power of the court on your side. They issue a stay that prevents creditors from reaching out to you again.
Our Memphis bankruptcy attorneys have helped thousands of people stop creditor harassment for good, and we can help you. Contact us today to discuss your options. The conversation is completely free.