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Debt collection in the digital age

Anyone with unpaid bills knows that debt collectors are ambitious to the point of being intrusive. Whether online, on the phone or through snail mail, they’ll contact you frequently to try to recover funds.

It’s harassing to be on the receiving end of calls and messages when you’re working hard to get yourself out of a tough situation. Whenever the law creates a new consumer protection, debt collectors find a workaround.

Technology outpaces regulation

Telephone calls are becoming less regular in daily life. While the Telephone Consumer Protection Act gives respite from robocalls, tech savvy collectors are finding new, more modern ways to get in touch with debtors. Technology often outpaces the law when it comes to regulation.

Using technology, collection agencies are simulating customer service, using ringless messaging and tracking debtors on social media.

Here are a few new tools that agencies have developed in the era of the Smartphone:

  • Spoofing – Inserting a local area code in caller ID to mask the agency’s identification.
  • Skip tracing – Many agencies are utilizing databases that compile debtor information, making it easier to track debtors.
  • Ringless voicemail – This is a new innovation where agencies send a message directly to a phone server so it appears in a voicemail box without having made a call itself, skirting regulations tied to telephone use.
  • Avatars – Technology where a virtual customer service representative guides a debtor through payment, often prompted by email.

Consider an automatic stay

While legislation like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act gives some distance between the consumer and your technology, sometimes it isn’t enough.

An automatic stay is a benefit that kicks in when you file for bankruptcy. The stay halts any collection cases until you’ve settled your filing. The purpose is to create payment plans that work in your current situation, settling any collections issues in the process.

An automatic stay is one of many legal protections for people who owe money. To learn more about bankruptcy, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney who understands the different options under Illinois law and how they might apply to your personal situation. Whether a medical condition, unemployment or a family tragedy put you in a tough spot, there are ways to settle your debts while protecting your right to privacy and peace of mind.

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