Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley recently proposed updates to state debt collection regulations that change how collectors can contact consumers via cell phone and text messages. The proposal also includes amendments to how "passive" debt buyers conduct business, Coakley's office said.
Massachusetts' Debt Collection Regulations have not been amended since the 1970s. Changes to the definition of a creditor to include active and passive debt buyers, as well as the definition of debt, would also be changed. Under the proposal, "debt" would include a $25,000-plus loan secured by a first mortgage on property. The definition of communication would also be amended so that abusive interactions through recordings and text messages are prohibited. Coakley said the regulations would protect consumers and "create a level playing field, so that those creditors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not at a competitive disadvantage." The regulations would force passive debt buyers to abide by the same rules as everyone else, she said. Debt collection laws in other states are also changing how collectors communicate with debtors. A Florida judge recently ruled that an agency there could not try to locate a woman via her Facebook page or through any other social media website, The Associated Press reports.