Collection agents can now contact consumers via email, text and social media

BOISE –– The Department of Finance is advising consumers in Idaho that debt collectors can now use non-traditional means to communicate with consumers when trying to collect a debt.

These avenues may include friend requests and private messages on social media channels, including Facebook, text messages and emails. This change is part of a new rule under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) approved by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that went into effect November 30, 2021.

The rule applies to collection agent attempts, communications and other behavior occurring on or after that date, regardless of when the underlying debt was incurred. These changes to the FDCPA represent the first updates to the law in more than 40 years.

Although some consumers prefer to communicate through more modern channels, others may find it difficult to distinguish between a legitimate and fraudulent or otherwise unauthorized collection attempt.

A general understanding of how and when a collection attempt is valid helps strengthen financial stability and protect individual privacy.

The new rule clarifies the parameters a collector must follow when contacting consumers. Among other conditions, debt collectors who make contact via social media are required to identify themselves clearly, to send only private messages that are not publicly visible or visible to the recipients’ contacts on social media and to offer an opt-out option to receive further messages when contacting them. via social networks, e-mails or SMS.

A collection agent is limited to making seven outgoing calls within seven days per collection account and calls that go to voicemail are considered phone contacts.

To avoid falling victim to a collection scam or incurring unlicensed third-party debt

collecting consumers must take the following precautions:

  • Carefully review any debt collection communication received.

  • Avoid clicking on unknown links and never disclose private personal or financial information to unknown entities or individuals.

  • Verify that a third-party debt collector is licensed to do business in Idaho by visiting the department’s web page Idahoans approached by an unlicensed debt collector are encouraged to file a complaint and can do so on the Department’s website.

  • Beware of anyone who wants you to pay off a debt you don’t acknowledge. Confirm that the debt is legitimate and belongs to you by requesting the debt validation documents in writing as set forth in the FDCPA 15 USC 1692g.

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