NY AG leading charge to stop proposal allowing debt collectors to use social media

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Debt collectors could be allowed to start contacting people through social media.  A proposed bill through the consumer Financial Protection Bureau would authorize debt collects to use social media as a form of communication.  

New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has joined 28 others around the country to put a stop to this proposal. 

An estimated 49 million people in the country are contacted each year by debt collectors.  

People like Jovan Benjamin, a Rochester citizen with debt.  She says it’s stressful enough getting collection calls and she doesn’t want to log into social media and be faced with debt collectors.  

“I definitely think it’s a little bit invasive to go find me in my social media page and send me a message or text me. I just think that’s a little bit too invasive,” said Jovan Benjamin, a Rochester resident who has debt.

The proposed rule updates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, last updated in 1977. It includes social media as a form of electronic communication for debt collectors.  

Officials with the Consumer credit counseling service of Rochester say the act needed to be updated to current times, but contact through social media could be invasive.  

“It’s important that debt collectors and the bills that are surrounding debt collection are really looked at closely and how we can modify the rules behind that and how we can control we debt collectors can and can’t and the methods of contacting consumers,” said Karyn Rando, Director of Counseling Operations at CCCS of Rochester

“With social media, it’s very public. If you’re on Facebook, you have your personal information out there whether it’s your phone number or email address. SO, I can see how debt collectors will use that to their advantage and try to use that to collect those debts,” said Rando.

Benjamin has dealt with debt collectors before.  She says that social media is a personal account.  

“I get it, I owe my debt but can we just keep it on the professional side, give me a call don’t hit me up on Facebook,” said Benjamin.  

28 attorney generals, including New York’s Letitia James, have written a letter calling for the ban of social media use.  

In that letter they say; “The States believe that use of social media in collection activity is inappropriate and should be banned.” 

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