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Debt collectors reaching debtors through social media

When most people log on to their social media page they expect to hear about a niece's recital, a friend's softball game, answer a Farmville request, or to view a picture of a cute puppy accompanied by some random words of wisdom. What they don't expect is a message from someone looking for a debt collection. While a lot of Miami residents have had financial difficulties, they don't appreciate those difficulties following them into the safe haven of their online world.

Lawmakers see their point. Major strides were made in protecting consumers in 2010 with the Dodd-Frank Act that gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau authority to regulate collection practices. But rules are often not followed until they are made, and the CFPB and Federal Trade Commission are working together to better define the parameters where debt collecting is acceptable.

No matter what the circumstances are, facing debt collectors when you don't have the money is very stressful and can affect every area of a person's life, including their job performance, their marriage, and even their relationship with their children. It's estimated that 10 percent of Americans have debts in collection, with an average balance of $1500.

While it's good that government agencies are working together to enforce and define limits for collectors, one thing a person can do before any law passes is to file bankruptcy, which will require collectors to stop seeking payment for debts. Bankruptcy is not the right choice for everyone, a bankruptcy attorney can help you see what your options are so you can decide what is best for you.

Source: The Buffalo News, "Debt collectors are going after people on social media," Carter Dougherty, Jan. 28, 2013

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