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Is that a debt collector sliding into your direct messages?

You get “friend” requests all the time on social media from names you don’t recognize — and you usually accept them. The scammers you can weed out pretty quickly, and the rest are people that you probably know from somewhere, even if you don’t recognize their names.

Well, the next friend request you accept could be a bill collector who is about to blow up your instant messages with demands for payment.

When did bill collectors gain the right to haunt your social media pages?

They gained that privilege last year, thanks to changes to debt collection rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency that is charged with protecting consumers from abusive business practices.

The rule won’t go into effect until late this year, but it is definitely going to make a sea change in the way that bill collectors can go after their targets. Aside from being able to contact you through your social media profiles, they will also be able to contact you via emails and text messages — on top of the copious phone calls and letters they already use.

Proponents of the changes hailed this as a move to modernize debt collection. Opponents say that it just subjects debt-weary consumers to even more harassment when they can’t pay their bills.

What are your options when dealing with overwhelming debt?

Bankruptcy is a viable option for many Americans who are struggling with major debts. If your financial situation has gotten out of control and you see no reasonable way to recover, it may be time to learn more about how bankruptcy works here in Tennessee.