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Oh Great, Now Debt Collectors Can Slide Into Your DMs

If you’re sick of robocalls, here’s some terrible news — your phone isn’t the only way they’ll be able to come after you anymore. A new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule has gone into effect that makes it legal for debt collectors to contact you on social media. That means your Twitter DMs, your Instagram private messages — any social media account you have, as long as it’s private.

In other words, these companies can’t contact you in any way that would be visible to others, which is a small blessing. They also have to identify themselves as debt collectors and provide an opt-out option. Anyone who’s ever tried to get their name on a “Don’t Call” list can tell you how successful that opt-out option is likely to be.

The CFPB may be named “consumer financial protection” but it’s difficult to see how exactly these rules are protecting consumers. In October of last year, then-CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger wrote that the updated rules are simply reflecting how times had changed since 1977, when the rules were first written.

“1977. Bell-bottoms were popular fashion, Elvis passed away, the very first Star Wars movie was released, Jimmy Carter became president, and Steve Jobs introduced the world to the idea of the personal computer with the launch of the Apple II. We can all agree that a lot has changed since then,” she wrote. “We are finally leaving 1977 behind and developing a debt collection system that works for consumers and industry in the modern world.”

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Well, that’s very exciting. The future sure is fun.

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