PHOENIX — While you may still owe money, debt collectors have three years to sue you for debt related to credit cards and six years for medical debt.
If you owe a debt, get ready for a text, an email, or a message on social media.
New rules clarify how debt collectors can reach out and it's not just by phone anymore.
So, before you accept that new friend request on Facebook, you may want to take a closer look. Could it be a debt collector?
"Debt collectors can now contact you on text messaging, social media, they can leave you voicemails," said Lisa Rowan, a personal finance expert with Forbes Advisor.
She's talking about new debt collector rules that she says clear up gray areas.
Rowan says it's always been illegal for debt collectors to harass or threaten you, but where was the line?
"It was tough to tell if someone was sending me a DM on Instagram — was that harassment?"
The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules state if a debt collector uses social media, the message must be private.
"They're not going to come for the wall on your Facebook. Your friends won't be able to see it," Rowan said.
The debt collector must identify themselves.
If asking to be a friend or contact, they can't pose as something they are not.
They must include a way for you to stop receiving messages from them.
There are also new rules about text messages and emails. And, if a debt collector calls you more than seven times in a week, it can be considered harassment.
The rules also clear up what information the collector must provide if they contact you. That includes their name and mailing information, name of creditor owed, account number, itemized amount owed, and how you can dispute the debt.
Rowan says all of that should help consumers decide if the debt is valid.
It could also be a debt where the statute of limitations has run out.