Debt Collection In The Digital Age
Nationwide, one-third of Americans hold at least one debt that is in collections, so it’s safe to assume that debt collectors are pretty busy. Over the years, debt collectors have shifted their tactics. While they still send letters and harass people with phone calls, some are now incorporating other forms of communication such as text messages and social media. If you’ve ever fallen behind in payments, you know that being harassed by these folks can make your life miserable. Let’s take a look at the changing landscape of the debt collection industry and what you can do to stop the harassment.
If you are overwhelmed by debt and being harassed by debt collectors, filing for bankruptcy can stop them in their tracks. Contact Sirody & Associates for a free consultation.
The Debt Collection Landscape
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that debt collection complaints comprise almost fifty percent of the more than one million complaints that the agency receives annually. And, with the continued continued increases in credit card and medical debt, we don’t expect this stat to change in the near future. Although laws are in-place to protect consumers from debt collection harassment, the debt collection industry continues to adapt tactics and expand its reach in order to meet its goals.
Debt collectors used to limit their actions to inundating struggling consumers with paper letters and frequent phone calls. Now, some collectors have resorted to sending harassing text messages or trolling debtors on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Debt collectors who use social media as a means for harassment are acting outside of the law, but that doesn’t always stop them. And while text messages may be annoying and embarrassing, the laws don’t actually specifically prohibit any one form of communication, with the exception of postcards.
Know Your Rights
If you’re being harassed by a debt collector via phone, social media or on any platform, it’s important to know your rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) offers protection against repetitious or annoying phone calls, misrepresentations such as someone posing as an attorney or threatening legal action or arrests, and much more. If you believe that you are being harassed by a debt collector or debt collection agency, you can submit a complaint online or contact your state’s attorney general to submit a complaint.
The Upside Of New Technologies
Although the debt collections landscape is changing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all bad news. In April 2017, the credit reporting agency Experian rolled-out a new program called eResolve to enable debtors to resolve and negotiate debts and past-due balances digitally – without ever speaking with a debt collector. TrueAccord is another digital debt collection platform.
Bankruptcy Can Help
Filing for bankruptcy can enable you to stop debt collectors and reorganize your financial future. As soon as you file for bankruptcy, a court order called the automatic stay will immediately stop any debt collection efforts against you by any creditor or agency. The automatic stay will also immediately stop most civil lawsuits filed against you. If your property or essential services such as utilities are at risk, or you are being threatened with wage garnishment, bankruptcy can often offer protection. Learn more about how bankruptcy can help eliminate your debts and give you a new financial start. Contact Sirody & Associates today.