Debt collectors use Facebook to harrass
By Bailey McGowan
Posted December 2, 2010
Posted December 2, 2010
Confirm friend request. Click.
Embarrassing wall posts, harassing messages and unwanted contact with friends and family. Welcome to the new battleground for debt collectors: Facebook.
Many have found themselves accepting friend requests from someone they're not sure they know, or think they might know. Someone who carelessly accepts a friend request could be damaging themselves more than they realize.
No longer is it just enough to call, text or mail people about their debts and payments. Now debt collectors have begun hiding behind fake names and pictures on Facebook to reach debtors on a new level.
They may post messages like, "Pay your debts, you deadbeat" on your Facebook wall like they did to a Chicago resident, according to a report by The Associated Press. They may contact family and friends, asking them to have the debtor contact the debt collector.
The problem is that this kind of behavior goes strictly against the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The act states that debt collectors may not contact any third party; any person other than a consumer or the consumer's attorney is off-limits.
The act also states that the debt collector may not contact the debtor in a place inconvenient to that person. It is arguable that Facebook is an inconvenient place.
Today, Facebook is more than just a social networking site used to occupy time. It can be the deciding factor in whether or not a person gets a job or is expelled from a university. Facebook has a certain weight in the professional realm and it can be detrimental to a person's career if future employers find out they have outstanding debts.
People should recognize that the idea of a private Facebook page doesn't exist if necessary precautions are not taken. Also, people should be proactive in their efforts to protect themselves from predators and should not whimsically add "friends" who they don't know. It takes all of 20 seconds to check someone's page to find out if they actually know that person or not.
Finally, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that unless the debtor puts it in writing that they want the collectors to stop contacting them or hire an attorney, debt collectors can continue to contact them. People need to understand their rights as consumers and take the necessary steps to ensure the harassment stops.
Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.
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