Creditor harassment extending into the social media realm
On behalf of Ellett Law Offices , P.C. posted in 1. Credit Card Debt on Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Nearly 35 years have passed since the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted. The law set standards for how debt collectors could reach an in-debt party and it prohibited a variety of immoral and abusive ways to contact someone. Much has changed during these three-and-a-half decades, and one such change – the advent of social media – is straining the limits of the FDCPA.
It has become a popular practice for agencies to utilize social media tactics to contact and harass people who have outstanding debt. Some of these unwanted forms of collection include online impersonation and contacting family members to obtain information or learn your whereabouts. Considering the FDCPA does not clearly reference social media, the gray area regarding the use of Facebook and Twitter to contact an in-debt person is growing.
So how can you combat such unwanted forms of collection? It may not be as straightforward as “delete your profile” – collectors could still harass friends or family online. But there are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself from online debt collectors. One method is to respond to any letters or mail notification you get from a collection agency within 30 days.
Most people have the natural reaction to ignore the issue and hope that the collectors leave them alone. It certainly would be nice, but a better course of action is to write back to the collection agency telling them that you no longer want to be contacted through any methods. It will not get rid of your debt and the collectors will seek legal action to settle the matter, but the calls, letters and online contact will come to a halt.
Remember to establish your privacy settings so that your profile is not open to anyone on Facebook. Along the same lines, do not accept friend requests from people you do not know. Online impersonation is a very real issue and debt collectors could pose as a “friend of a friend” when their real intention is to learn your personal information.
Source: USA Today, “Can Debt Collectors Contact You via Social Media?,” Susan Johnston, Feb. 13, 2012
Tags: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, credit card debt, debt collection, online harassment, social media