How Do Debt Collectors Find You?

It used to be easy to avoid debt collectors. All you had to do was simply avoid the phone calls from them. After a few avoided calls, they seemed to stop. And, you could breathe a sigh of relief. Today, debt collectors have new ways to reach you in an effort to collect on what you owe. Remember, it’s their job to find people who haven’t paid what they promised to and to get them to pay those debts.

Social Media Is a Clue

Social media has long been a place to have some fun and connect with people. Some debt collectors have turned to using it as a way to find those that owe them money. There are limitations to when and how they can reach you. For example, the Federal Trade Commission does not allow them to post messages about your debt. This would be a violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Yet, it doesn’t stop them from gathering information about where you live or work, so they can use that information to track you down.

Sending You a Text Message

Some debt collectors have taken to texting consumers. They may send a text message that isn’t clear about who it is coming from. Then, after you respond to the message, they send threats and other information trying to get a hold of you to pay the debt back. There is no law that says they cannot use text messages to reach you. Yet, there are limitations to this, and they can never be deceptive in any way.

For example, they cannot text you under false pretense to get you back on the hook for paying the debt. Another example of something they cannot do is to provide information that isn’t accurate but looks like a risky situation to get you to respond. The FTC has ruled that making a text message look like a fraud alert, for example, is not an allowable method of connecting with you.

They Can’t Imply They’ve Spoken to Family

It used to be possible for debt collectors to communicate your owed bills to your family members in the hopes of embarrassing you into paying them. They can no longer do this. They also cannot tell you that they’ve spoken to family members or that those members have promised to repay your debt. Any information provided has to be accurate.

Debt Collectors Can Find You in Various Ways

There are many ways debt collectors can track you down, including:

  • Data brokers used to gather information on you that you haven’t disclosed otherwise
  • Using the creditor’s information to find you.
  • Using credit reports to obtain copies of addresses you previously lived at
  • Using skip tracers
  • Using public records
  • Using state motor vehicle department records
  • Contacting you through information from friends and relatives about your location

As a consumer, it’s always wise to pay your bills on time to avoid this. Yet, even in the best situation, you may not find it easy to avoid these debt collectors.

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