Several collection agencies have been using electronic mediums like emails, social media platforms, and SMS to contact debtors. This approach is significantly different from traditional collection calls and letters.
To a standard person, it may appear that contacting a debtor either way (traditional or electronic) is the same, a contact made is a contact made regardless of the medium .. right? Well, it’s not that straightforward. The debt collection industry is constantly under the lens of government regulators, surrounded by strict collection laws and several attorneys who are always looking for an opportunity to sue collection agencies over the slightest fault.
Emails, social media platforms, and SMS are way cheaper than traditional mail or hiring a professional debt collector to be on the phone with a debtor for a significant time. Therefore many collection agencies use a blend of traditional and electronic mediums.
The FDCPA (federal debt collection laws) have not changed much for decades now. Contacting a debtor through the electronic medium is still a grey area. What if the email address is shared by all family members, then technically, collection agencies risk a violation. The electronic contact rules are still evolving and FDCPA will surely issue more clarification around this in the future.
People born after 1980, means Generation Y and Generation Z are far more technology savvy and many of them have no problem being contacted electronically. In fact, many prefer it that way.
Collection agencies now insist that their clients (Original creditors) include a paragraph in their legal service agreement which permits that the customers can be contacted (by original creditors or by a collection agency) in case of a late payment/default. Essentially, it means on any/all contact information provided can be used for contact, that includes their phone number, email, through the SMS, or on the social media. Sometimes debt collectors take a (recorded) consent from the concerned debtor that contacting him/her through SMS or email is acceptable. Some agencies don’t do anything, which is not ideal.
In short, yes, there is a risk involved if a debtor is contacted by a collection agency using an electronic medium, but many collection agencies have adopted it already.