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Debt collectors taking advantage of social media

Jun 28, 2011 Mike Garretson

Advances in technology have changed the daily lives for of many people in the United States, especially with the growing importance of platforms such as social media that allow people to stay in touch with friends and family members. One group that has sought to take advantage of the increased use of these sites is debt collectors. However, there are certain rules that the industry must follow in order to comply with the law and reduce complaints from consumers. Among the largest trade groups tackling the issue is the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals, which recently laid out new strategies for those wanting to jump on the hi-tech bandwagon. In a recently created blueprint, the ACA called on lawmakers to change legislation in order to allow them to contact those in debt through smartphones and social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. The ACA's general counsel, Valerie Hayes, said the industry was looking forward to working with members of the government to reach an agreement that worked for all parties involved. "Our aim is to collaborate with Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, state attorneys general, regulators, lawmakers and others to create a balanced system for debt collection that allows a vital industry to function and protect consumers," said Hayes in an interview with Mobiledia. The ACA's director of public affairs, Mark Schiffman, said the technology was an essential resource, and the tools allowed them to better complete their jobs. He also added that there were restraints put on what sort of messages debt collectors could send. The line between harassment and legitimately pursuing a debt that is owed is one of the biggest struggles that many have dealt with. Some industry insiders have been calling for better regulation of the industry. Bill Bartmann, president and CEO of CFS II, is presently in the midst of a 50-state tour highligting issues within the collections sector of which he wants people to be aware. So far, he has given testimony in front of 12 attorneys general, officials from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, members of Congress and others.