Mar 6 2012
In today’s world, debt collection companies are riding a thin line between legitimate collection practices and predatory collection techniques. Social media has become the newest way for debt collection companies to locate and communicate with consumers. This new phenomenon has left many industry insiders unclear as to the legality of the practices. Invading people’s privacy is a very sensitive issue that could result in legal consequences from the company in question. This information reaching the public may result in a change in the way social sites and collection companies operate.
What They Can Do
Some debt collection agencies have sunk to the point of making fake profiles and becoming friends with people with the goal of retaining their information the whole time. People’s profiles who are public may risk their information being found out by clandestine collection agents posing as followers. A few states have enacted laws against online impersonation, but none of them restricts collectors from tweeting or posting on consumer’s Facebook wall to find out a debtors whereabouts. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) a debt collector that post about a consumer’s debt on social media is in violation and has compromised privacy agreements.
Collectors are allowed to use information shown on social media to contact the consumer about their debt. A little common sense made need to be used when posting information on social media. If a person knows they are in debt it may be smart not to provide location information on social media pages or settle the matter so that they can move on.
They are Watching
Be watchful of the words used when speaking of things that are paid in full with cash or assets that are earning residual income. These things could be taken into consideration if a debt collector finds them via social media and could put a halt to settlement arrangements. There is no need to brag and boast about the car just bought in cash or residual income. The information the collection agency has on file of a consumer should coincide with their social media profile. Giving into the temptation to talk about recent financial accomplishments may result in the collection agency not willing to settle for a lesser amount than was actually owed or potentially suing the debtor in court.
A person, who is dodging the collection police, might want to adjust their privacy settings on the social media site they participate in and make sure their page is private. Debt collectors are only aloud to contact a spouse or lawyer to discuss the collection of a debt. People whose family or friends are contacted by these agencies may want to file a complaint with the FDCPA, for this is a direct violation of the law.
Use your Head
People can avoid all this nonsense by simply staying out of debt and not buying things one cannot afford. That may be too much to ask of people but it is rational. For people who are in debt, make sure these companies follow the law and know your rights. Education and experience is the key to understanding finances. Do not make a decision that will cause problems in the future for short term self-appeasement. These decisions could potentially haunt a consumer till there is no end in sight and leave a stain that is hard to get out of credit ratings that will be needed in the future. People spend their entire lives cleaning up debt, are smart and save money to attain what is desired instead of using financing so often.
This article was written by Stacy Nguyen for the personal injury law firm of Bottar Leone, PLLC. At Bottar Leone, clients can find an experienced Syracuse personal injury lawyer dedicated to seeking justice.