Debt collectors' use of social media examined
Debt collectors using text messages and social media to pursue delinquent borrowers could be placed under scrutiny as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers rules as part of a crackdown on the collection industry.
The bureau said on Wednesday that before it formally proposes any rules, it wants to hear how collectors verify borrowers' information and contact consumers.
Among questions it is asking consumers, banks and the collection industry is whether there could be privacy concerns or other harm from communicating with debt collectors via text message, social media or other Internet-based tools.
In recent months, regulators have warned debt collectors against misleading borrowers. “Now it is time to look closely at how we can improve and modernize existing measures that were written before the Internet, before social media and before many other new communication technologies,” Richard Cordray, the bureau's director, said.
“We are seeking to hear from the public ... about what works and what does not in the current debt collection market,” he said.
Mark Schiffman, a spokesman for ACA International, a trade group for third-party collectors, said his members want clarity on whether and how they should use communication methods.
For instance, debt collectors cannot disclose debts except, in some cases, to a borrower's spouse or attorney. But it might be difficult to confirm who hears a cellphone voicemail or sees an email or Facebook message.
“The world communicates a whole lot differently today,” Schiffman said. He said his group tells members that using public sources such as LinkedIn or Facebook to find information is fair game.
“You're going at your own risk if you go any further,” he said.
Consumer bureau staff members did not give a timeline for when they might propose rules. They said they would probably convene a small business panel to discuss potential rules first.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S. adds 173,000 jobs in August, dropping unemployment rate to 5.1 percent
- Alcoa putting $60M into Upper Burrell tech center expansion
- Fifth Third Bank selling Pittsburgh branches to First National
- NexTier Bank buys Oakland’s Eureka to increase coverage in Western Pennsylvania
- Indian SUV maker Mahindra to debut electric scooter in U.S.
- Robust jobs report could force Federal Reserve to raise interest rates
- PPG’s new CEO to push organic growth with existing clients
- Stocks end roller-coaster day higher
- Coal stocks on a roller coaster ride they can’t get off
- Shale gas violations down as DEP steps up inspections
- Housing bright spot as Beige Book survey shows Pittsburgh region’s growth slight