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Federal agencies mull over possible new debt collection rules

Can a bill collector turn to Facebook and pose as a friend to attempt to collect on a debt?

That is a question that consumer protection groups are struggling with. This blog has, from time to time, reported some of the outrageous things that some bill collectors will do, or say, in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Many Ohio residents who are struggling financially may have experienced the stream of calls and letters that debt collection agencies generate.

But some bill collectors reportedly have turned to such social media outlets as Facebook and Twitter seeking money from debtors, according to Bloomberg News. The issue has apparently caught the attention of regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

Federal agencies plan to create new rules in regulating the massive debt collection industry. In 2011, the FTC fielded roughly 180,000 complaints from consumers who were angry over the tactics used by bill collectors.

The CFPB was created and given new authority to regulate the debt collection industry. The agency is mulling over issues and ideas. It may be too soon to tell what rules may evolve in the coming months.

For many who are carrying large debts loads, creditor harassment may be only one of the issues that are bothersome. Most people are aware of the bankruptcy laws that are in place and can be used as a method of stopping creditor calls, and finding debt relief.

Often people are reluctant to learn more about how the chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy laws may apply to a specific situation. But specific information also may allow a debtor to make an informed decision about how to proceed in the face of overwhelming debt.

Source: Bloomberg, "Debt Collectors Posing as Facebook Friends Spur Watchdogs," Carter Dougherty, Jan. 24, 2013

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