In recent months, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) reported receiving complaints regarding the newer collection practice of sending text messages to unsuspecting consumers in an effort to collect debts. Collection agencies are sending text messages to consumers attempting to collect debts that don’t belong to them or where consumers had not agreed to make a payment. The FTC has coined this collection tactic “Messaging for Money” and plans to use the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) to ban collection agencies from using this method to pursue a debt.
Complaints to the FTC included that the texts stated the consumer’s credit card payment was declined, included the credit card number, and a statement that the consumer must call immediately to make payment. Consumers receiving such texts complained that they never provided a collection agency with their credit card and never agreed to make any payment. With the growing number of complaints, the FTC is looking to ban the practice of texting to collect debts altogether.
In most of the text messages sent, the collection agencies first and foremost fail to identity theft themselves and fail to notify the collector the message is an attempt to collect a debt, two requirements under the FDCPA. According to the FTC, a legitimate debt collection agency is aware of the rules and is most often not looking to scam the consumer. Questionable conduct usually comes from a questionable collection agency and if a consumer is unsure of the motives of the collector they should cut off communication and not submit any payment.
Other complaints included texts that threatened to file suit against consumers, garnish wages and arrest consumers for non payment. One agency was accused of sending texts to consumers stating that a process server was looking to serve the consumer with a lawsuit if payment was not received and requesting a home address to serve the consumer with notice of the suit. According to the FTC, consumers must know their rights under the FDCPA and understand that the same rules apply when using text messages to collect a debt.
If you believe your rights have been violated under the FDCPA and would like to speak with a licensed attorney, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.