If you don't like paying your bills and have perfected bill collector avoidance, you best steer clear of Facebook. It seems that savvy collection agents have started stalking their targets on the social network, and once again we're all reminded that what we put on Facebook can be seen by the entire world. (So watch what kind of photos you're making available to your so-called friends while you're at it.)
While one should expect that if you have a public profile, anyone can find you and ask you for their money back, some debt collectors have gone way too far on Facebook. And this has nothing to do with posting, "You look amazing!" on your photos of your Paris trip, then catching you in a big fat lie about your assets.
For example, a collection agency called MarkOne started contacting a woman's friends and family and asking THEM to have the debtor call them because she owed money. Not cool. The woman then sued, and won. Her point is well-taken when she says the company had her name, phone number, as well as her work and home address. There was no need to go on Facebook and humiliate her as well.
It doesn't shock me that collection agencies went too far on Facebook. The people who work for the companies are known for making threatening phone calls and harassing people. In fact, they probably hire the most aggressive people in the world to do these jobs. And unfortunately, in this economy, there are a lot of people who have found themselves out of work and in over their heads. Adding harassment by an aggro collector does not help the debtor to find a job or pay their bills.
Even though Facebook and Twitter founders weren't even born when the Fair Debt Collections Act was written, this lawsuit has helped define what's okay on FB when people are looking for their money, and what is not. No writing on the wall, no threatening, and no harassing allowed by bill collectors on the site. But everything else needs a second look, as the rules of engagement have absolutely changed.
Do you think it's okay for collection agencies to use Facebook in this manner?
Image via cambodia4kidsorg/Flickr
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