As of November 30, 2021, debt collection agents have the right to contact debtors through social media accounts. According to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, bill collectors must, however, follow certain rules under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
If you use social media and have unpaid debts, collection agents may contact you online through private messages. You may, for example, receive a “friend” request from a bill collector. Under the FDCPA, agents must identify themselves as debt collection representatives of your creditors.
Collection agents may only send private communications
The FDCPA only allows bill collectors to communicate with debtors by sending private messages. You may receive direct messages from debt collectors. Debt collectors must, however, provide a way to opt out of receiving further communications from them.
The CFPB notes that collection agents may not contact you through public communications. Agents may not post on those social media timelines that your friends and family may see. They may not “like” or comment on your public posts. If a bill collector contacts you publicly, it may reflect a violation of the FDCPA, which you may report.
FDCPA violations may result in a lawsuit for damages
The Federal Trade Commission is the government agency that enforces the laws collection agents must follow under the FDCPA. If you begin receiving messages online from debt collectors, you may use those communications to report a violation of the law.
As noted on FTC.gov, collection agents cannot threaten, bully or harass you online or in real life. Sending messages with foul or obscene language also violates the Act, and you may file a lawsuit.
Although creditors may contact consumers about unpaid debts online, they may only use private messaging. Receiving public messages from debt collectors may violate the law and require a legal action for relief.