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New rules give debt-ridden consumers less space to retreat

When your debts are piled over your head, it’s hard enough to look at the letters in the mail demanding payment and field the messages on your phone.

Now, however, debt collectors may soon stalk you in other ways. New rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that are designed to update debt collection practices for the electronic era are also likely to give debt-ridden consumers new headaches.

The next “friend request” you accept on Facebook could be a debt collector

Under the new rules, debt collectors are no longer limited to calling you every day. Now, they can simply fire off a text message — or several — to your phone about the debt. They’re also free to contact you via email and on social media.

The CFPB did not put any requirements on debt collectors to get consent before doing any of these things, either. Nor are they limited on the number of emails, texts or direct messages they can send. They only need to include information on how consumers can “opt out” of the messages.

In essence, that means the next “friend” request you accept on Facebook or another social media account could be a debt collector ready to slide into your direct messages. While they cannot post a public message on your timeline about the debts, that doesn’t mean the contact will feel any less invasive.

When debts become burdensome, it’s okay to seek help

If your debts are overwhelming and the debt collectors have gotten increasingly aggressive, it may be time to think about filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 can relieve the majority of your debts if you have little income.

If your income is steady enough, Chapter 13 can allow you to reorganize some of those debts in a way that is manageable and forgive the rest over time.