If you’re already drowning in debt, it can be tough to find a place of respite from all the bill collectors hounding you through phone calls and letters.
Thanks to new rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), you won’t be able to escape debt collectors online, either.
Debt collectors can now contact you through email, text messages and social media
The debt collection industry welcomes the new changes to the laws, saying that it merely moves practices into the electronic era.
For roughly 70 million debtors who have bills in collections, however, the new rules are a nightmare. They can be sent daily texts and emails demanding payment, and the next time they open their direct messages on Facebook a bill collector could be waiting.
Consumers are not without resources against aggressive collection efforts
Experts say that consumers need to hold firm when approached electronically about a past-due debt. First, they ended to make sure they actually owe the debt (since some bill collectors buy up old debts and pursue them long after they’re no longer collectable).
Then, they need to “opt out” of electronic contacts. Debt collectors will still have to obey a consumer’s preferences for limited contact, and that means you can tell a creditor to stop emailing and texting — so do it.
You may also want to consider filing for bankruptcy. When your financial situation is untenable, sometimes the smartest thing you can do is wipe the slate clean. Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection can eliminate most debts and help you get back on your financial feet.