I have recently read a number of stories about a new weapon in the debt collector arsenal, social media. Think about all the information that is now shared online via Facebook and Twitter. A great way for that debt collector to find out more information on your current situation, where you are eating, what you are buying, and where you are vacationing, etc. Just think of all the status updates you provide and how they could relate to your financial state. If you have outstanding debt and are not current on it, it’s probably not a good idea to be showing off a new purchase on Facebook. It’s a simple rule that any of us with kids have discussed, be careful what you post online, potential employers may see it, colleges, friends, etc. It’s really about common sense and protecting one’s own privacy. Make sure you check privacy settings on any of the social media application that you make be using and think about what you are posting before you click submit.
Debt Collectors can and will use the internet to located people, who owe money. This is not off limits. If you post contact information like e-mail or phones numbers these are fair game. Some collectors have crossed the line using Facebook to contact family and friends of someone they are trying to collect a debt from. There has been limit regulations for events like this, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to change that in the near future, purposing new rules to help combat recent changes. Roughly 1 in 10 Americans are being pursued by debt collectors and the numbers of social media incidents are increasing.
Off Limit Practices for Debt Collectors
Here’s a partial list of practices that debt collectors can not use as per the Federal Trade Commission.
• use threats of violence or harm;
• use obscene or profane language; or
• repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.
• falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
• falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
• you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt;
• legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action.
• give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company;
• try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge;
Have you ever posted something online that you regretted?