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So just how does the ACCC and ASIC Guide to Debt Collection deal with new emerging ways of contacting debtors such as social media platforms?
In making contact with a debtor Section 1 of the guide to debt collection provides:
(e) If you elect to use emerging technology to attempt to or make contact with the debtor, you should carefully consider the particular channel and its potential audience. It may be acceptable to attempt contact via emerging technology provided:
(f) You should avoid contacting the debtor via a certain channel (whether it is an emerging technology or a more traditional channel of communication) if:
Section 3 of the guide incorporates emerging technologies such as social media into contact;
(a) ‘Contact’ with the debtor or other person is interpreted widely. It includes, but is not limited to,the following:
Section 5 of the guide deals with emerging technology and frequency of contact
Telephone and other contacts (including letters, emails, text or telephone messages, social media channels)
(e) Unnecessary or unreasonable contact by letter, email, SMS, telephone messages (whether left on a voicemail service, an answering machine or with a third party), or by the use of social media channels or other technology must also be avoided.
Example: Contact using social media
If you use social media such as Facebook to contact the debtor, then you must ensure such contact is not excessive and is always for a reasonable purpose; otherwise the contact may amount to undue harassment. You must also observe your privacy obligations when using such forums to make contact with the debtor.
Section 8 of the guide deals with privacy;
(f) Caution should be exercised when leaving messages for the debtor that may be seen or accessed by
third parties, for example....:
Section 17 of the guide deals with conduct towards the debtor;
(b) You should never;
In the glossary to the guide and within the definition of communication;
Communicate: unless otherwise specified, includes communication by telephone, mobile telephone, fax, email, letter, in writing via text message or online technology (such as social media channels), and in person.