To quote Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin.'”

And that is nowhere more evident than in the universe of debt collection, a world long known for its inherent tensions, brittle customer contacts/acrimony and regulatory scrutiny.

In the “old days,” companies contacting consumers regarding outstanding debts did so in the longstanding and traditional manner of mail delivery and direct phone contacts. The latter, of course, have engendered intense loathing among consumers in Arkansas and nationally who have been harassed by non-stop ringing and aggressive collectors.

Indeed, the collection industry has long been under a dark cloud for tactics widely construed as unethical and, often, illegal.

Enter new tech assists, which entrepreneurs in the business say are helping to change the industry’s reputation and dampen the conflict and stress that so often mark collector/debtor communications.

As the national publication Nerd Wallet notes, the strident and incessantly demanding phone rep that has for so long marked the collection industry is steadily being supplanted by methods of communication intended to be, well, a bit warmer and fuzzier.

That means things like so-called “voicemail drops” pursuant to which silent messages suddenly appear on consumers’ phones. No ringing actually accompanies such communications. And then there are animated avatars that pop up in debtors’ email boxes, gently cajoling repayment in soothing rather than hectoring tones.

Unsurprisingly, the creators of such tools, along with industry spokespersons, laud both the efficacy and softer delivery of such repayment methods.

Critics, though, counter that they are merely dressed up versions of what has always existed, namely, harassing and uninvited contacts that often cross both ethical and legal lines.

Consumer harassment in debt-collection matters has always existed, and will unquestionably continue to do so, regardless of how communications are postured or reconfigured.

Here’s the bottom line regarding such contacts: Individuals and families who are suffering from troublesome collector actions can obtain relief by timely contacting a proven debt-relief attorney for legal representation and strong advocacy on their behalf aimed at halting harassing communications and promoting best-case outcomes.