If you’re like most Americans, you rely on social media to keep in touch with everyone from old high school friends to distant relatives and social acquaintances — often through direct messages (DMs).
Unfortunately, the next message request you get could be from a debt collector — not somebody you met at your local coffee shop.
Debt collectors are gaining new inroads into your life
If you owe money you can’t pay, it soon won’t be just a matter of tossing the bills in a pile and blocking calls on your phone. On Oct. 30, 2021, debt collectors will be able to email you, text you and message you on social media directly — pretty much at will.
While they still will be limited to only seven actual phone calls per week (maybe more), they can send unlimited texts and emails. While they can’t post on your profile page on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, they can track you down in messages as often as they want.
Supposedly, consumers will be allowed to “opt out” of these contacts, but there’s no clear information yet exactly how.
You can take control of your life and your debts
There are some steps you can take immediately to handle aggressive debt-collection practices. To protect yourself:
- Do not acknowledge the debt. Do not agree with any statement the debt collector makes. They can use that to revive so-called “zombie” debts that are actually expired and no longer collectable.
- Request verification of the debt in writing. Ask for the total of the debt and the name of the original creditor. If the bill collector refuses, end the call.
- Do not give the debt collector any information. This includes your occupation, your current financial situation or any personal data (like birth dates). Make no agreement to pay and do not suggest you will even consider it.
Finally, consider filing for bankruptcy. If you’re already being hassled by debt collectors, bankruptcy can put a quick halt to the problem and give you the fresh start that you need to move on.