Debt Collection the latest use for Facebook

There are over 500 million people worldwide who use Facebook. We use it to share content with those we know. We use it to communicate. Marketers use it to reach their customers and see what they’re saying.

MediaPost reports that Facebook (and other social media sites) are now being used for purpose: debt collectors investigating, communicating with and even posting embarrassing information about those who owe them money.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with debt collectors shouldn’t be surprised by this. They call you all the time. They mail you all the time. And when they do contact you, they aren’t exactly friendly. But social media presents other opportunities for debt collectors to harass you. And they appear to be taking advantage of those opportunities.

MediaPost, citing a MSNBC.com report, says that consumers have complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of debt collectors impersonating that person’s friends. The Orlando Sentinel also reported that a debt collection agency used Facebook to contact the relatives and friends of a woman who fell behind on her car loan payments.

Some of the actions undertaken by debt collectors on social media may be illegal. According to the FDCPA, it is illegal for anyone to divulge the fact that someone owes a debt to other people. On the flip side, however, Facebook photos can be used against you in a court of law. For example, if you claim to be in dire financial straits, but have photos on Facebook of expensive vacations or new cars, your debt collector could use them as grounds for a lawsuit.

The moral: don’t get caught posting photos or getting tagged in others’ photos that contradict what you tell debt collectors. Watch what you post on Facebook and, as importantly, what others post about you on Facebook. Set your security settings as high as possible, so those you don’t know can’t see what you posted.

And, of course, don’t go into debt unless you absolutely have to.

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