Debt is an issue that impacts the majority of the US population, and unfortunately, in many circumstances, it is almost unavoidable.
Studies show that 80% of people living in America are caught up in some kind of debt. This means that for every 10 people you pass in the street, statistically, 8 of these 10 are in debt.
The highest cause of debt in the US belongs to mortgages; closely followed by car loans, credit card loans, and student loans.
Buying a house or paying your way through college is almost impossible without loans. This leaves freshly graduated students starting their careers with up to $35,000 in debt.
One of the biggest stresses debt carriers face is knowing when, and how, they are going to pay the money back. With debt forming such a large problem, it is important to know your rights.
In 1977, a rule was passed to eliminate abusive debt collecting practices. Not only was this to protect people in debt, but the law was also for the debt collectors, to ensure that companies who do not use forceful techniques are not financially disadvantaged.
Recently, the rule has been updated to include further ways debt collectors can contact the debtor, including newer types of technology. This means that:
- Within a year of the rule being passed, debt collectors can reach out through personal numbers (text messages) and social media platforms.
- Although some restrictions have been put in place, there are no longer many limitations for methods of contact. The new rule states that debt collectors can now contact by email, but they must clearly state instructions to opt-out of receiving further emails. This also applies to text messages.
Debt collectors can contact up to 7 times in a 7-day period. They cannot exceed this amount. They are allowed to leave voicemails following specific requirements and restrictions under the communications of FDCPA. There is nonetheless no limit on the number of text messages that can be sent during this 7-day period.
Issues with the New Law
Understandably, this new rule has left consumers feeling unprotected.
Fraud is already a stagnant problem, with almost 4 million cases reported in 2019, and an expectancy to rise. Will the increased ways of contact also lead to an increase in fraud?
Debtors should be werier than ever to not click on any links or open attachments until you are sure of the source of the email or text. People are being urged to always ask for proof to make sure they really do owe the money.
Invasion of privacy
Although there is to be the option of opting out of emails and texts, there will be no option to give consent before this. This means debtors can be contacted at any time, whether they are at work, with their families, or on holiday.
While it may seem like it, there are in fact benefits for the debtor in this new rule.
Fewer phone calls
Collection calls are amongst the biggest pet peeves in America. A little number of people enjoy talking on the phone with strangers, and would rather deal with things via text. Therefore, the emailing system will lower the need for direct phone call conversations.
Being reminded of the money you owe is never a nice thing. However, failing to acknowledge it can lead to the consumer being sued or being reported to the credit bureaus.
This will lead to further money problems and a lower credit score. Keeping up with your debt bills, with reminders from debt collectors can reduce severe consequences.
As stated above, people do not like phone calls from unknown numbers. There is a likeness that people will just not pick up the call at all. This could lead to missing the warning and leave unwanted results.
Since 1977, the rule has been more or less untouched. These changes have been drastically made, and come at a time where people are still financially struggling through a pandemic. However, the rule for looser contact restrictions will still take place near the end of 2021.